Bourne statue moving north

19:28, Jul 26 2012

The memorial statue of Kiwi rally star Possum Bourne is to shift from the place of his death, almost in the Cardrona Valley, to Pukekohe, where he was born and lived.

Peter "Possum" Bourne, New Zealand's most celebrated and successful rally driver, suffered severe head injuries in a non-competition car crash on the Pisa Range in mid-April 2003.

He died in Dunedin Hospital 12 days later, after he was taken off medical life support systems.

At the time of the accident he was driving the circuit for the upcoming Race to the Sky event on the rugged, steeply rising, hairpin-corner course along Waiorau Snow Farm Rd.

Charges were laid against the driver of the other vehicle, a fellow rally driver travelling downhill on route reconnaissance before the event.

A year later, during the 2004 Race to the Sky event, the much-larger-than-life bronze statue erected on a stone plinth was unveiled.

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The Race to the Sky event was canned in 2007 and is unlikely to be held again.

Former Race to The Sky director Grant Aitken confirmed yesterday that the statue would move to Pukekohe, where he said it would receive much more exposure than at its present location.

The bid to move the statue north, estimated to cost $100,000, was ratified by the Franklin Town Revitalisation Working Party on July 19.

The working party has money set aside in the Pukekohe Town Centre Revitalisation budget for the move, and plans to unveil the statue at next year's V8 Supercars event in April.

Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker said the projected timing of the unveiling was key.

"In April, next year, it will be 10 years since his [Bourne's] death, so our thinking is that we could tie in the unveiling in Pukekohe with the V8s."

Possum's mother, Peggy Bourne, said yesterday that she was "thrilled and delighted" with the statue's move north.

"When the statue was put there they still had the rallies going on, and now that that is not the case I think moving it back to Puke is a great idea," she said.

"Unveiling it during the V8s is also a good thing because Peter was mad about anything with a motor." grant.bryant@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times