Scrap over Otago ferry

02:15, Jan 23 2013
Southland Times photo
Shem Sutherland on the Elsie Evans during an open day fundraiser in 2010.

Infighting, budget blow outs, unmet deadlines, and other problems are said to have stalled restoration of historic Otago harbour ferry Elsie Evans, which has sucked up $400,000 of public money.

The committee running the four-year project, headed by chairman Shem Sutherland, hopes to restore the small ferry and run trips from the new Portobello jetty.

However, it appears to have missed its 2012 completion deadline, has run out of money, and the vessel needs to find a new home.

Members confirm some have resigned from the committee because of disagreements such as the purchase of an engine that turned out unsuitable for the boat and personality clashes.

Committee member James Henry said the project had suffered a major setback with the death last year of its former fundraiser and treasurer Hugh Montgomery.

However, the project had not fallen over but was simply stalled, he said.


There had been personality clashes within the group over spending and the calibre of work to bring it up to survey compliance.

The boat now has to be moved from the University of Otago's Wickliffe building.

An assessment of the project was planned in the next few weeks, Henry said.

''There will be people who will go over it and assess what's still to be done,where the project is at, what the completion time is, and what the cost is.''

Committee member Ian Milne said it had become harder to raise money because of the economic climate.

He denied any personality clashes: ''We rub along. We do have different styles of doing things at times.''

An engine was bought for $24,000 on the supplier's recommendation, Milne said.

''We thought it was all okay. Then the surveyor decided it was too big.''

The committee was now trying to return it, he said.

Sutherland played down problems with the restoration.

''We're working on it. It's a massive project.''

The Southland Times