Video checked for vandalism clues

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 10:40 26/02/2013
waimate bushman sculpture
EMMA BAILEY/ Fairfax NZ
HEAVY THEFT: Waimate's bushman sculpture, pictured here when it was unveiled in 2006, was stolen at the weekend.

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Waimate police are hoping video footage from a surveillance camera will help to identify the group of people suspected of vandalising the town's bushman statue.

The statue was broken lose from its sculpted log base and left lying in the street sometime late Saturday night, according to senior sergeant Mike Van der Heyden.

An earlier report suggested that the statue was missing, but it was recovered the same night.

''The statue was apparently vandalised by a group of youths and left at the scene and we're in the process of identifying the youths through surveillance footage,'' he said.

Waimate's history as a sawmilling town was acknowledged with the life-sized bushman sculpture in November 2006.

The sculpture, adjacent to the clock tower, near the council chambers, was the result of fundraising by Project Waimate.

Project Waimate fundraised $30,000 to pay for the development and contracted Christchurch sculptor Donald Paterson to develop the sculpture, which he worked on for nearly 12 months.

The area where it was placed underwent extensive landscaping and earthmoving during the redevelopment and an information board on the site was constructed to tell the story of Waimate's bush heritage.

The sculpture is constructed of marble-based filler, resin-coated clothing and bronze hands, head and hat. Paterson has made many public art works around New Zealand, including Timaru's Captain Cain.

The bushman theme dates back to the middle of the 19th Century when Waimate was a small village surrounded by about 1200ha of native forest.

By the 1870s hundreds of men were employed at five sawmills operating in the bush.

In 1878 nor-west winds fanned a fire which burned for eight days. Five sawmills were destroyed and 70 houses burned, but no lives were lost.

Small native areas, Point Bush and Kelceys Bush, both escaped the fire and are still popular recreational areas.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Waimate police on (03) 689 7272.

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- The Timaru Herald

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