The scaffolding at the top of the spire of the Iona Church in
Port Chalmers sways in a slightly sickening way on a good
But in a year that has seen its fair share of wind, the
conditions have been ''very unpleasant'' for the carpenters
and stonemasons who have clung to the more-than-130-year-old
Oamaru stone structure, and continued work to restore it.
Stevenson and Williams managing director Rob Cunningham said
stage one of the work was complete and the whole project
should be completed by the end of the year.
Restoration of the Historic Places Trust category 1-rated
Port Chalmers Presbyterian church started in May last year
after years of planning and fundraising.
The Historic Iona Church Restoration Trust was set up,
independent of the church itself, specifically to raise funds
for the project.
Restoration of the 1872-built church hall, which used to
serve as the church before the main building and spire were
added in 1883, had been completed and scaffolding removed
That work had involved earthquake-strengthening, replacement
of some flooring timber and trusses, and repointing of
stonework as the building was weatherproofed.
Getting to the top of the main spire involves climbing 16
scaffolding staircases, followed by a single ladder to a
small perch by the spire tip and lightning conductor.
It is on the spire a small team of stonemasons, led by Marcus
Wainwright, have been replacing and repairing Oamaru stone
that was, in some areas, badly damaged by time and weather.
Trust trustee Lincoln Coe said the opportunity the project
offered to access the spire was a ''once-in-50-years
The cost of the project by the time of its expected
completion would be $1.3 million, and that was just the cost
of getting the building strengthened and weatherproof, he
The trust raised $800,000 originally, but had acquired
another $500,000 from organisations including the Lottery
Grants Board, the Otago Community Trust and the Presbyterian
Without that funding, contractors would have had to end their
work with the project unfinished.
''Making it pretty'' - restoring aspects like the stained
glass windows - would have to be done later.
Those involved in the project, however, were committed to
''doing a proper job''.
Of the work he saw today he said: ''It will see that building
remain in great shape in the community for another 100 years.
''It's an outstanding achievement.''