Windmill meeting called

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The restoration of the Willowbank railway windmill and water tank, which is one of only two windmills still on its original site in New Zealand, will be the focus of a meeting to be held this month.
Gael Perry, of Waikaka Valley, is calling for those interested in the project to attend the meeting, with the aim of forming a group.
‘‘We have had a wee meeting and got quite a bit of local support,’’ Mrs Perry said.
Gore district heritage curator Jim Geddes will be at the meeting, to be held on July 11 at the Waikaka Valley Hall, starting at 7.30pm.
The windmill is listed as a category one historic place by Heritage New Zealand.
Stage one of the project, which was started several years ago, was to replace the windmill’s vanes.
The Croydon Aircraft Company had made vanes using the original plans and imported Canadian cedar, the timber originally used.
‘‘They are ready to be put up,’’ she said.
‘‘They’ve [Croydon Aircraft Company] done a good job.’’
The next stage will be to remove the tail and refurbish it. The windmill and water tank were built in 1911 and serviced the Waikaka branch railway line until it was closed in 1962.
The windmill has stood idle for several years.
‘‘It’s nearly 20 years since it’s been going.’’
Mrs Perry believed there were only two category one structures in the Gore district, the second being the Sgt Dan Stockfoods Ltd building.
The windmill was a wellknown landmark, she said.
Mr Geddes said the Gore District Council had commissioned two reports, one on restoration and maintenance of the windmill and the other a contract document, about 10 years ago.
The structure was reclassified as category one from category two, which meant Heritage New Zealand guidelines had changed slightly, which could be an advantage to any group setting up to drive the restoration project, he said.
In order to apply for funding for the project a formal group needed to be formed.
A category one classification was looked upon more favourably by funders, he said.
As well as trying to attract national funding, local funding was possible, Mr Geddes said.
The Community Trust of Southland had supported the project in the past.
There was a need to appoint a specialist heritage engineer to review the existing reports to make sure they fell into the criteria needed for category one structures, he said.
The specialist heritage engineer also needed to oversee the project.
Mr Geddes was unsure how much the restoration project would cost. However, $12,595 had been spent so far, he said.
One of the hurdles that would have to be overcome during the restoration was that the structure was designed to pump water and when the water supply was disconnected it was being buffeted by the wind and the windmill flew apart a couple of times. The water supply needed to reconnected, he said.