Statue of Bourne off to Pukekohe

The statue of rally driver Possum Bourne looks over the Cardrona Valley, about 9km up the Snow Farm access road. The memorial will be moved to Pukekohe later this year. Photo sby Mark Price.
The statue of rally driver Possum Bourne looks over the Cardrona Valley, about 9km up the Snow Farm access road. The memorial will be moved to Pukekohe later this year. Photo sby Mark Price.
A life-size bronze statue of rally driver Possum Bourne which overlooks the Snow Farm access road above Cardrona is to be moved to the driver's home town of Pukekohe, south of Auckland.

Bourne died in April 2003 from injuries sustained in a car crash on the Snow Farm access road during the lead-up to the Race to the Sky hill-climb, in which he was a regular and popular competitor.

A year later, a bronze statue of the driver created by Queenstown sculptor Minhal Al Halabi was erected on a site overlooking the former hill-climb course and unveiled by Bourne's three children.

Former event director Grant Aitken said the statue was unveiled at a time when the Race to the Sky was expected to continue "indefinitely", but a "combination of circumstances" prevented it running beyond the 10th event in 2007 and there were no plans to hold it again.

"As time goes on, I'm concerned about its [the statue's] recognition and value staying where it is," Mr Aitken said.

"If you go out 10 years from now, it's going to have very little value or interest [at Cardrona]."

He believed more people would appreciate the statue in Pukekohe, where it was likely to be put in a prominent place such as the town square.

Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker said Bourne was "a legend" in Pukekohe, where his accomplishments and contribution to the community made him a source of pride.

"For his statue to be returning to his home town as we near the 10th anniversary of his death is really exciting and emotional for his family, friends and those who understood the bond between Possum and Pukekohe," Mr Baker said.

Bourne's widow, Peggy Bourne, agreed it would be "wonderful" to have the statue in Pukekohe.

However, John and Mary Lee, the former owners of the land on which the statue stands, are reluctant to see it go.

"I was a bit sad about it, but then as I thought more about it, I thought, 'oh well, it's one of those things'," Mr Lee told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"They kept saying 'oh, he'll be forgotten about if he's left there'. I thought that's not quite true - a lot of people still walk down to [the statue].

"I was arguing there should be something down here. I don't care what form it takes ... because this was his favourite race."

After the statue is removed later this year, a bronze plaque will be attached to the stone cairn left behind at the site in Bourne's memory.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz