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New beginnings... stonemason Kirk Wallace, from Scotland, works on the Hurunui Hotel.

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Block by block, the quake-damaged Hurunui Hotel is coming back to life.

There is a lot of Scottish blood flowing through the veins of its restoration.

Scotsman Chris Boyd, of Pinnacle Masonry, and his clan are ensuring its future by piecing together areas of the historic hotel’s exterior one block at a time.

They are following in the footsteps of their forefathers, with the 150-year-old hotel having been originally built by Scots.

Chris, who is more used to repairing castles, is four years into his new life in New Zealand. His company arose from wreckage wrought by earthquakes and based firmly on his philosophy of it is “better to save them than get rid of them”.

He is loving having a hand in returning one of New Zealand’s oldest heritage pubs in rural North Canterbury to its former glory.

Numbers game… All blocks in the Hurunui Hotel project are identified and returned to their rightful spot.

The Christchurch-based company specialises in heritage restorations and its masons, who come from Scotland, have vast experience in all aspects of stone work. Their handiwork can be seen in the Trinity Church on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets in Christchurch.

As each of the four gables was deconstructed at the hotel, each limestone block was indexed, numbered, photographed and stored, ready to be put back in exactly the same place.

The team has been chipping away at this intricate work for several weeks.

Two gables have been finished and the remaining two are well on the way to being completed. Two red-brick chimneys and the restoration of the old morgue will cap off the transformation.

Chris says the work has been going well

Meanwhile, owner Rodger Strong, a retired builder, has been hard at work shoring up the hotel, bracing and tying the limestone walls, roof and framework so it can weather whatever nature throws at it.

Fresh look… One of the full restored gables, rebuilt with the original limestock blocks.

He says the work is still on target for the hotel to be able to open again in late autumn or early winter.

The upgrade of the hotel, which has Category-1 listing with the Historic Places Trust, was given a boost with Heritage EQUIP (the Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme) awarding it $132,503 in its latest funding round to help repair quake-damaged stonework.

Its entrance into the hotel’s future also helped Rodger and Nola Strong raise enough capital to add to the indemnity insurance payout they received, which was not enough for the needed repairs.