Stonemasons visit Oamaru

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Oamaru is renowned worldwide for its stone and it has attracted two Germans to the town.

They are stonemasons Lea, of Singen, and Andy, of Eisenach, who on arrival in New Zealand came directly to Oamaru.

“It’s a very special stone,” said Andy yesterday as he relaxed with a coffee and cigarette outside the Empire Hotel.

“At home we can’t use wooden tools but here with Oamaru stone you can.”

They could not give their second names because of a tradition dating back to the Nazi era of the 1930s and 1940s in Germany.

“During the time of the Third Reich the Nazis did not want tradespeople travelling,” Andy explained.

However, they continued to travel and, to avoid being caught, did not give their second names.

Andy and Lea have completed their apprenticeships and are travelling the globe to gain experience. It is a tradition German tradespeople have followed for centuries.

They also wear traditional clothing from the 19th century.

“We have to always wear the traditional clothing in public,” Andy said.

“It’s forbidden to spend money for accommodation. We hitchhike and have to leave our hometowns for a minimum of three years. There’s a 50km boundary around our hometowns.”

Both have been travelling for two and a half years, all over Europe to Spain, France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Romania , Hungary and also to Morocco.

“I think we will continue a little more,” Andy said.

Since arriving in Oamaru they have worked on restoring an Oamaru stone staircase and stayed at the Empire Hotel in Thames St for three weeks. Lea has made a special facade for the owners from Oamaru stone.

“We have met so many nice people here,” Lea said.

They left for Dunedin yesterday and intend continuing on to Fiordland and then Australia.

By CHRIS TOBIN