Movie men's wartime boat hopes slip away

Last updated 00:19 20/12/2008

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Plans by movie heavyweights including Peter Jackson to restore part of Wellington's Shelly Bay to be used as a base for a rare war launch have been scuttled.

The project would have resulted in the restoration of the old Shipwright's Building and slipway in Shelly Bay and the creation of a naval-themed museum.

The building would have been used to refurbish the World War II harbour defence launch Koura to its former glory, including replica weapons, but a request for funding of up to $200,000 from Wellington City Council has been turned down because of the tight economic times and new Maori ownership of surrounding land in Shelly Bay.

The project is being driven by movie director Geoff Murphy, the man behind classic Kiwi films such as Goodbye Pork Pie and Sleeping Dogs. He has joined forces with special effects guru Ross Martindale to spearhead the ambitious plan, which is also supported by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said the council would work with the men to find an alternative site where the boat could be refurbished.

She supported the project in principle, but said funding was unlikely in the short term. Complicating matters was the news yesterday that the former airforce base at Shelly Bay would be bought by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust. The council would retain ownership of the road and some land, including the Shipwright's Building, but it would be premature to enter into a lease until a clear vision for the whole area had been established.

The Koura is owned by Mr Martindale and stored at the Historical Maritime Park in Paeroa.

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- The Dominion Post

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