Last remaining coastwatcher base to be restored

Brian Jones, Kathryn Pemberton and commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Graham MacLean of the HMS Wellington, which ...
JOHN HAWKNS/FairfaxNZ

Brian Jones, Kathryn Pemberton and commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Graham MacLean of the HMS Wellington, which is berthed in Bluff before departing to the Subantarctic Islands, with building equipment to repair a coastwatchers base from WWII.

New Zealand's last remaining World War II coastwatchers base is to be restored in time for Anzac Day.

This month  the Navy transported a team of Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers to Ranui, in the Auckland Islands, to weather-proof the base.

Also on board was Brian Jones, the son of former Southlander, and New Zealand's last surviving coastwatcher from Ranui, John Jones.

The 91-year-old was set to go along with his son for the three-week trip, but his doctors said he was unable to go because of his age.

The younger Jones was happy to represent his father in his absence.

"You don't get this kind of opportunity every day."

He plans to take a lot of photos of the island to take back to his father.

DOC ranger Kathryn Pemberton said every year the Navy support DOC by transporting teams to the Subantarctic Islands so they can carry out various tasks on the islands.

It was a collaborative effort between the two because it was expensive task taking a boat to the islands, she said.

"We have six tonne of materials in a container on board to re-roof and re-pile the coastwatchers base," Pemberton said.

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"If the building isn't weather-proof, it won't be there to look at."

The aim was to have the site restored in time for an early Anzac Day celebration before the team leave for Bluff on April 14.

They plan on completing the restoration of a look-out on an island further south in the Auckland Islands, Tagua, which is about three quarters complete, she said.

DOC project manager for Antipodes Island eradacation Stephen Horn was also heading out with the team to conduct population studies of pests on the islands.

"We've got traps to trial to help eradicate mice, cats and pigs from the island, but there is no funding available yet."

 - The Southland Times

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