Historic buildings vandalised in Macetown

Department of Conservation historic specialist Stew Hardie assesses the vandalism done to historic Macetown buildings. Photo by Dave Murfin.
Department of Conservation historic specialist Stew Hardie assesses the vandalism done to historic Macetown buildings. Photo by Dave Murfin.
Vandals smashed windows, ripped a protective lead cap off a chimney and attempted to light a camp fire inside a pair of 130-year-old restored buildings in Macetown.

Former Department of Conservation (Doc) restoration contractor Barry Huddhart reported the damage done to the remote historic Needhams Cottage and Smiths Bakehouse to the Doc Wakatipu Area Office earlier this month.

Department historic specialists Stew Hardie and Dave Murfin were able to fully assess then repair the damage yesterday.

It was thought someone had backed up a vehicle to climb on to the roof of the cottage and bent back the lead cap, then tried to start a campfire inside the dwelling.

There was evidence of other fires being lit outside, which posed a further risk.

Up to four window panes in the bakery were broken by thrown rocks.

The spate of vandalism cost $500 to repair.

Mr Hardie worked with Mr Huddhart on the Macetown restoration and the completion of the project was marked by the unveiling of a plaque by then Prime Minister Helen Clarke last March.

"It's not so much the cost of the broken windows but had the cottage gone up in flames you'd never be able to replace it - it's priceless," Mr Hardie said.

Mr Hardie said the windows had been broken twice before within the last 12 months.

There were no clues identifying the culprits and the police would not be involved, he said.

Macetown is one of the most intact and accessible historic goldfield towns managed by the department in Otago and is located about 16km up the Arrow River from Arrowtown.

Macetown attracts more than 7500 visitors every year, either independently on foot, mountain bike or 4WD, or with one of several guided tour operations that visit the reserve.