By Rosemary Baird
A collaborative workshop at Otago’s St Bathans Post Office has strengthened both a heritage mudbrick shed and heritage professionals’ shared knowledge.
The building is owned by Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation, but leased by the St Bathans Area Community Association who are developing the post office as a visitor attraction.
On Wednesday 19 April, a keen group of heritage professionals gathered to learn all about mudbrick building from St Bathans stone mason and mudbrick expert, Keith Hinds. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Conservation Advisor, Susie Farminer, from the Otago/Southland office organised the workshop.
“This was a great way for us to repair the almost collapsed shed behind the St Bathans Post Office, but also for the participants to learn from Keith about mudbrick repair techniques,” says Susie.
“We propped the building, deconstructed the leaning damaged wall and came up with a way to organise the mudbricks so we could put them back in the same place.”
Keith, a St Bathans local, had already made up an authentic mud/lime mortar which the group used to rebuild the wall.
Equally important, according to Susie was the knowledge-sharing and connections made on the day. “Everyone who came – from Pouhere Taonga, Te Papa Atawhai, and private heritage consultancies – was so enthusiastic and keen to have a go. We had a lot of time to share our individual experiences and knowledge, as well as learn from Keith.”
"Craftspeople like Keith have skills that are becoming increasingly rare nowadays, so it’s a privilege to attend a hands-on workshop like this"
Mike Gillies, Canterbury/West Coast graduate conservation advisor for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, found the experience invaluable.
“I found the workshop great because Keith has such a wealth of knowledge of working with traditional materials such as mud brick and lime mortar. Craftspeople like Keith have skills that are becoming increasingly rare nowadays, so it’s a privilege to attend a hands-on workshop like this.”
Keith Hinds was thrilled with the repairs to the heritage shed, as it is now stabilised for the future.