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Slice of history . . . The Paroto was the first vessel to work the reopened port of Kaiapoi in 1958. In 1960 it was transferred to the Inter Island Shipping Company. Paroto ran aground on August 3,1966, and was totally wrecked in dense fog at Point Gibson, North Canterbury. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

The demise of the MV Tuhoe on the Waimakariri River bar in late September 2015 has spawned an historical account of the Kaiapoi Port.

Taking the barA history of Kaiapoi Port captures the changing fortunes of the port that once bustled with activity and became the centre of commerce for North Canterbury.

Commissioned by the Kaiapoi Maritime Heritage Trust, previously the MV Tuhoe Kaiapoi River Town Trust, which looked after the affairs of the Tuhoe, the 180-page book by Colin Amodeo, with Paul Croucher, details the port’s 175-year history.

Trust president Phillip Redmond said the port’s history was in danger of fading into the past, so the trust took up the challenge of preserving its history by refocusing and rebranding itself following the Tuhoe’s grounding on the bar and subsequent demolition.

“With the demise of the Tuhoe we used some of the insurance money, after paying off a number of liabilities, to produce the book on the port while people were still about who remembered it.

“There is also a lot of new people in Kaiapoi following the Canterbury earthquakes who wouldn’t even know there was a port going way back to the 1860s and that its fortunes fluctuated,” he says.

Colin Amodeo, who has written many maritime history accounts, along with Paul Croucher, a Kaiapoi local and trust member, captured the port’s history, producing not only an educational book but a “great read”.

Mr Redmond says the trust will now turn its attention to several new projects in the new year.

“In the long term, using the little bit of money left, we are hopeful we can return the pilot launch Kaiapoi to the Kaiapoi River and restore a link to the past.”

The launch, which is at Lyttelton being restored by Stark Bros, was disposed of when the port was closed in the mid to late 60s.

Mr Redmond believes it was in Southland before being returned to Canterbury.

The trust is also looking at establishing a maritime museum.

“It is in its very early days and we don’t have enough money for that, but we may look at ways of working in with the Kaiapoi Museum,” he says.

“But that is something in the future. We will start thinking about that next year.”

Taking the bar – A history of Kaiapoi Port will be launched on Wednesday, December 6, between 6pm and 8pm, upstairs at the Kaiapoi Club, Raven Quay, Kaiapoi.

The public are welcome to attend. They should contact Neill Price on 029 4361590 before December 1 and advise they wish to attend for catering purposes.

For pre-launch sales, call 027 4362581.