The goodwill and skills of two Marlborough tradesmen have restored a statue destroyed at St Joseph’s School in Kaikoura by ‘mindless vandals’ in January.
Last month Blenheim plasterer Mark Owen put the finishing touches on the once-terracotta figure of St Joseph and baby Jesus.
He and his friend, Picton painter Ollie Watson, rebuilt it after Mr Watson read a news report about the vandalism which said the statue ‘was beyond repair’.
He rang Mr Owen and they decided that nothing was irreparable and they would put the statue together again.
The school was contacted and it agreed to send them the broken monument.
There were lots of bits in a box, Mr Owen said. Important features like Joseph’s beard, and baby Jesus’s fingers had been completely smashed.
‘We had to sit there for a couple of days with a few beers and work out how it should look. It was a challenge.’
Starting from the ground up, the once-hollow statue was filled with plastic reinforcing rods and plaster and the outer features replaced or repaired with fibre-reinforced, modified plaster.
Mr Owen is a bit shy when asked what the job would cost if he were doing it for a customer, then says charge-out rates are usually $50 an hour.
The work had taken about 80 hours, but St Joseph’s School won’t be receiving an invoice.
He and Mr Watson aren’t Catholics, either.
‘We’re just people who don’t like people wrecking things.’
That’s a feeling shared by others in the community, he added, saying a Mainfreight Transport truck took the statue back to Kaikoura.
This story first appeared in the Marlborough Express, February 11, 2009.