One man’s passion for his town has led him to get specially painted images put onto 35-metre grain silos in his company’s transport yard.
Barry Sadler’s visual record of local heroes and their achievements is a special drawcard in the small inland South Canterbury town of Waimate.
The portraits show former Prime Minister Norman Kirk who is depicted holding the hand of a young Māori boy, an iconic image of togetherness and leadership well known from his time as leader of our country.
Norman Kirk was born in Waimate, and died suddenly in 1974 in his second year as Prime Minister and is buried there.
Another displays a soldier, Eric Batchelor, a local man, and the holder of two Distinguished Conduct Medals for “conspicuous bravery” during the Italian campaign of World War II. He is just one of nine Commonwealth soldiers to achieve the double.
Also, there is Margaret Cruikshank, who was the first woman registered as a doctor in New Zealand. She was born in Palmerston and practised as a GP in Waimate from 1897 to 1918, helping locals fight the influenza epidemic before she too caught the disease and died.
Another portrait shows Michael Studholme, the first English settler in the area arriving in 1854 in a hongi with his good friend the local Māori chief Te Huruhuru. Their relationship was one of the great success stories in Māori/Pākehā relations, says Barry Sadler the man behind the silo images project.
Sadler owns Waimate Transport, and the silos previously used for storing grain for the bakery next door are in his company’s yard.
The cost in getting the work done was “substantial”, so why did he do it? “Because I could,” he said.
The paintings are the work of local artist Bill Scott, and Sadler says the images were his idea because he wanted something to celebrate Waimate.
Although not part of the silo project, there is also another moving reminder of the past, with a mural showing a local woman Stella Chamberlain hanging rugby jerseys on a washing line. While raising 13 children of her own, Chamberlain faithfully washed the 20-plus jerseys of the Waimate Rugby Club’s first team by hand for 35 years. She never used a washing machine; instead, the jerseys were soaked in the bath, hand-washed and then put through the wringer before being hung out to dry.
Chamberlain died in 2014 aged 84 in 2004. She was made a life member of the Waimate Rugby Club in 2009, the only woman ever to get this honour.