Battered Highfield Woolshed to be saved

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By Amanda Bowes

It may be buckled, bent and shifted off its piles from a ruptured fault running under it, but the historic Highfield woolshed near Waiau will be saved.

The woolshed, which was the first home for the Amuri A&P Association’s shows, was completely shifted off its piles during the November earthquake.

Micheal Northcote, who farms Highfield, says his first reaction when he saw the damage was that a new woolshed would have to be built. A workshop not far away was rubble, so his initial thoughts weren’t hopeful.

After wandering around the shed, with memories flooding back of the generations who had worked there, his mind changed.

FMG were first on the scene, followed by their project manager. Structural engineers and Geotech then followed.

As the building is a Category One heritage building, the Historic Places Trust also came on board early.

Micheal says before the earthquake they were working together to do some repairs and maintenance. The Historic Places Trust is “hell bent on saving the building”, as they have seen too many historic buildings in Christchurch disappear.

Heritage House Relevellers, from Christchurch, visited and were confident they could lift the whole shed in a type of sling and then work underneath on the piles. Before this happens, significant bracing is needed.

The lean-to at one end will have to be completely removed and reassembled.

Because a small fault has ruptured underneath the building, which has caused the damage, the ground has to be carefully assessed.

“It is fixable, we are now just waiting on the final reports so we know what happens next,” says Micheal.

Despite nature’s indifference to what sits above it, hopefully the much loved iconic woolshed will once again sit straight and proud as it had done for over a hundred years.