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The Kauaeranga Valley Model Kauri Dam in action. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Kauaeranga dam restoration complete

Gushing torrents from Kauaeranga Valley’s model Kauri Dam will soon open for regular displays after many hours of volunteer work by Rotary Thames to restore it.
The organisation plans to officially open the dam, located near the Department of Conservation (DOC) Kauaeranga Visitor Centre, for regular public tripping this month after 12 of its members completed restorations in 2020.
President Warren Sly told The Profile dam restorations began in 2014 after Rotary Thames received a letter from two Pārāwai School students asking the organisation to repair it after they noticed while on a school trip that the dam was “in disrepair”.
“Our aim was to restore the dam so it could be tripped as a public event to allow schools to come up here, and keep it running as an original educational purpose to show kids how the dams work, why they were there and what their purpose was,” he said.
“When it started, Max Bosselmann, who’s a retired civil engineer, checked the strength of the dam and another one of our members John Hillary, who was manager of A&G Price at the time, used his expertise to do much of the original structuring work.
“About two years ago, we completed the restoration of the dam by replacing all the timbers of the dam and repairing the door mechanism.”
Warren said the plan now was for Rotary and DOC to do regular public dam tripping after the planned official opening in September.
“Because of health and safety, DOC will always be involved with every tripping, but the basic routine will be DOC will do the majority of the tripping for school trips and on routine
weekends Rotary will do the tripping for the general public,” he said.
A practice dam tripping by Rotary and DOC was held on August 24. Warren said the dam restoration cost nearly $20,000 and was paid for using Rotary funds, a $10,000 donation from Thames Community Board and an $8000 donation from DOC.
“I’ve been very grateful for all the support, DOC have been wonderfully helpful to work with to make it happen and we’ve got joint agreements on everything to move forward,” he said. Warren hoped Rotary’s work would enable the dam to operate for the next 10 to 15 years with routine maintenance using. Rotary’s maintenance fund and the help of donations from donation boxes which are planned to be installed near the dam.