Historic ship remains moved despite preservation concerns
MARITIME experts are disappointed that Wellington City Council has ignored their advice and moved the remains of the relic Inconstant into dry storage, which could result in its destruction.
The timbers and artefacts from the Inconstant have been moved from the Gallery on Queens Wharf to an open warehouse in Naenae with no environmental control apart from tarpaulins.
Council plans in 2012 to move the remains of the ship to accommodate the restructuring of the TSB Arena drew an outcry from local maritime archaeologists, who said moving the remains from its liquid polythene glycol solution into dry storage would destroy it.
“It is immensely disappointing that, among us all – museum management and council and the heritage community — we have allowed this project to be run down to this point,” says Maritime Archaeological Society secretary Malcolm McGregor.
Museum consultant Larry Robbins, a former CEO of the NZ National Maritime Museum, says it made sense to preserve the remains of the Inconstant where they were.
Wellington Museums Trust director Brett Mason says the remains have only partly been moved. “We’re waiting for the rest of the [TSB Arena] building to be cleared and give us the go-ahead to remove the remaining pieces.”
Mr Mason says the ship’s remains will be kept in Naenae until preservation is completed.
At the time of the initial move, last December, Mr Mason said the trust did not have a choice.
“It’s a domino effect with the Town Hall move [and consequent move of the council into temporary accommodation at the TSB Arena]. Unfortunately, we’re at the end of it.”
The Council had spent nearly $2 million on the restoration of the Inconstant since she was excavated in 1997, money that could all go to waste if they don’t take precautions, according to maritime archaeologists.
“The Inconstant/Plimmer’s Ark project was a graphic link between Wellington City and its sea origins,” says Mr McGregor.