Warkworth’s most iconic tourist attraction, the 105-year-old sailing scow Jane Gifford, risks being left high and dry if funds can’t be found to finish her restoration.
The vessel is owned by the Jane Gifford Trust, on behalf of the people of Warkworth.
Trustees Peter Thompson and Hugh Gladwell believe this year’s maintenance budget could be facing a $100,000 shortfall.
More than $1 million has been spent on the vessel since it arrived in Warkworth in 2005 as a derelict shell.
“The vessel today is testament to the generosity of this small community, which donated both money and hundreds of hours of labour,” Hugh says. “It stands as one of the most successful historic boat restorations in NZ. The community should rightly take great pride in what it has achieved.”
But, the job isn’t quite over yet.
Although Peter and Hugh say the rebuild was to the highest standards … “we’ve no doubt she will last at least another 100 years” … limited funds meant using some second-hand items. These included the sails, rudder and both masts.
“The equipment we used got us back on the water, but we always knew they would need to be replaced. Now that time has come.”
Peter says the income from fares and charter work only covers the annual haul-out, insurance and fuel costs.
In the past, grants have helped defray one-off expenses but Hugh says institutions haven’t been keen to fund maintenance work and the trust was recently turned down when it applied for $20,000 grant to replace the main mast.
The repair of the Little Jane and the replacement of her outboard motor, after she was stolen from the Warkworth Wharf in March, has added to the bills.
“The problem we’re facing is common to all heritage boat groups. While heritage buildings attract government funding, saving our maritime heritage is left to individuals.”
The trust is inviting members of the community to help set-up a Jane Gifford fundraising committee to apply for grants and organise fundraising events. They are also looking at setting up a givealittle site online.
Peter says he believes there would be an outcry from the district if there was any suggestion that the boat should be given to the Maritime Museum.
“I think in the first instance, if we can’t raise the money, we’ll just tie her up until we can.”
Peter believes that dredging the river to make it navigatable an hour either side of low tide will make a huge difference to the boat’s viability.
“It will be a crucial factor in the plan to put the boat on a sound financial footing because it will open up so many more opportunities for the use of the vessel.”
How to help
Donations to the Jane Gifford Restoration Trust can be left at the ASB in Warkworth.
Anyone interested in joining the fundraising committee should contact Hugh Gladwell on 021 606 409 or email@example.com