Clarks Mill’s fate rests with Heritage NZ

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Long-time supporters of Clarks Mill at Maheno are waiting to hear a decision from Heritage New Zealand on the future direction of the mill.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust purchased the mill in 1977 from the Clark family and a conservation plan was recently researched and prepared by Jonathan Howard, who was a heritage advisor for the trust.

The historic places trust has since changed its name to Heritage New Zealand.

Ann Sutherland, property manager of Clarks Mill and Heritage NZ, said the plan provided a great record of the mill, and its history and significance.

“It is also a great basis for guiding how the mill should be looked after in the future,” she said.

Volunteers who have helped restore and maintain the mill over the years had input into the conservation plan, the public consultation period finished on July 2 and the future of the mill is now in the hands of Heritage NZ.

Two submissions have been received; one from a person unknown to locals and the other from Clark’s Mill volunteers who ‘finetuned’ areas of the plan.

Volunteers who met for their usual Thursday morning tea were relaxed about the possible outcome.

“What will be, will be,” said David Clark.

“Once the decision is made we’ll have to work with it.

“Hopefully common-sense will prevail.”

Mrs Sutherland summarised the general feeling around the table that everybody present loved being part of the mill and wanted it to stay for people to go through for many years to come.

The purpose being to educate people about how flour was historically made. Many children did not have any idea that flour came from wheat, she said.

Harry Steenson said he would love to see the water race working to power the mill and there was mixed feeling about whether this was ever likely to happen. The inlet from the Kakanui River was quite high, they said, which would involve damming the river to lift the water level.

For now small restoration projects are continuing and work is being done to make the mill compliant with health and safety regulations.

No date has been set for a decision from Heritage NZ.

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY – Pictured (left to right) at Clarks Mill yesterday is Ann Sutherland (property manager Heritage NZ) and volunteers, Warwick Clark, Harry Steenson, David Clark and Karl Ruddenklau.