Stricken Wellington Zephyrometer resurrected
Struck down by lightning, but not defeated, the Wellington Zephyrometer has risen again.
The sculpture, which was blown up by a bolt of lightning on August 14, 2014, was resurrected on Wednesday as technicians battled strong winds for more than three hours.
Council staff were at Evans Bay from early in the morning reinstalling the 26-metre wind wand that was all but destroyed by the lightning storm.
After fighting gusts that made it hard to keep steady, they had the needle fully erected by 1pm.
"I think everyone's very pleased to see it back. It's already a well-loved landmark that got dealt to spectacularly by nature last year," Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said.
The sculpture, designed by Phil Price, cost about $150,000 when it was first installed at Evans Bay in 2003. It was largely paid for by Meridian Energy.
After it was "completely stuffed" by the lightning strike, it was taken to Christchurch to be repaired by its maker, MacLean said.
Price hoped it would now be more resistant to lightning, if slightly less strong.
"It was always timber with a carbon fibre sitting over the top, and now it's timber with fibreglass sitting over the top ... glass fibre is a less strong fibre, but it's not a conductor," he laughed.
"I think in the next week it's going to get a workout from every direction."
The repairs had not been fully costed yet, but MacLean estimated the total price tag would be between $100,000 and $200,000, including transport fees for trucking the needle to and from Christchurch and consulting on how to protect it in future.
The cost would "mostly" be paid out of insurance, he said.
The council had earthed the sculpture after advice from electrical engineers to insulate the Zephyrometer from future lightning strikes.
"If you earth a structure it means the lightning has a better chance of going through the sculpture to the ground and not causing damage, so we've done as much as we possibly can to deal with another strike."
Whether the council would save the sculpture if it were struck again was another question.
"That is a question for the artist and the bean counters, but I think everyone is gambling on the adage that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place."