New life in old benches

By Janna Sherman

Max Dowell looks over what remains of the two former Pioneer Statue seats which were vandalised last month and had been set for the scrapyard. Mr Dowell this week salvaged the benches and plans to restore them as part of a community project on behalf of the Westland Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association in time for the town’s 150th celebrations, in December. The seats had been deemed beyond repair, but apart from the splintered wooden slats — which could be replaced with hardwood — there was only a small amount of welding to be done to the decorative cast iron arms, Mr Dowell said. “You can’t buy seats like this today, they are historic seats and part of our heritage.” Once complete the seats will be presented back to the Westland District Council for placement. The Fitzherbert Street
Pioneer Statue site, and the monument itself, has long been plagued by vandals. The future of the area is currently in review with a bid from the Hokitika Goldrush 150 Committee to restore the statue and tidy up the surrounds. A separate bid has also been made to move the statue into the centre of town.