Rebuild plan for ferry
A Period of calm is forecast for an historic 20m steam ferry parked for restoration in Cobham Rd.
There has been some debate about whether to restore the 110-year-old SS Minerva to the full timber 1910 version or to use plywood and fibreglass for a more modern version.
"Some compromises will have to be considered and these will be detailed in a conservation plan," maritime consultant Keith Ingram, independent arbiter in the dispute, says.
"You can still build vessels to meet new Maritime Operation Safety System standards while retaining heritage values," he says.
Minerva was tied at a Taranaki wharf, still in working order, when its previous owner, Auckland-based charter operator Nigel Foster, heard that Bay of Islands' steam enthusiasts were looking for a hull. Mr Foster made Minerva available to the group on the basis that the kauri-hulled boat would be restored to its 1910 condition.
"I recognised it as part of New Zealand history; steam driven so that people can see how boats operated 100 years ago. The idea was to try and use unemployed people who might benefit from instruction from boat builders and experts in associated trades. And the Bay of Islands was seen as a better home because of its tourism," Mr Foster says.
But Kerry Farrand from Kerikeri, who organised the four-day tow, from Panmure Bridge to Blacksmiths Bay, took a strong line on how the restoration should take place, opting for modern materials.
Dissension deepened with a complaint lodged with the Charities Commission, alleging mismanagement by the Kerikeri Steam Trust, set up especially for Minerva.
Mr Ingram has recommended the establishment of a new Minerva Preservation Society to give single focus to the project, with the Kerikeri Steam Trust remaining as an umbrella body.
And he says a constitution should be drafted, "one that is facilitating, not destructive".
He says the group will be weighing up safety issues, modern maritime requirements and traditional values.
"The conservation plan will be its bible," he says.
Mr Ingram has agreed to help develop and finalise the conservation plan and he will monitor progress.
Maritime and steam enthusiasts are desperate to get the long-anticipated restoration under way now arbitration is over.
"Let's hope we have not long to wait until we can get the process managed 40 hours a week where our volunteers can take advantage of whatever time they have available to attend. This is such a relief after such a long time of enforced inactivity," shipwright John Clode, who is managing the restoration project, says.
The trust has a major fundraising task ahead raising around $800,000, but is already in possession of $10,000 worth of timber, Mr Clode says.
It also has received a $19,000 grant from The Southern Trust to begin the restoration.
"And we have keen volunteers. I have spent most of my working life specialising in traditional methods. There is no shortage of skills in boat building or steam. What we need is a good restoration programme going 40 hours a week," he says.
- Bay Chronicle