a rare and unique part of new zealand maritime history
Magesticly perched on the hills above Lyttleton, for over 100 years the Timeball Station was a comforting becon to seafarers and a icon to the local community.
Since 1876, the Lyttleton Timeball Station would provide Boats and Seafarers within the Lyttleton Harbour with times - a early version of a digital clock.
Listed as a World Heritage Site, the station was listed 51 of New Zealand's top 100 Historic sites and was one of only 5 working timeball mechanisms in the world.
However in the February 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes, the Station suffered devistating damage, predominately from it's site location in the cliffs and the huge rockfalls that occurred from the cliffs above. Ongoing aftershocks created greater hazards for those assessing the building and for it's eventual deconstruction.
Working with Archaeologists from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Nikau was engaged to tenderly and carefully deconstruct the timeball - top to bottom - with every inch, every nail, every piece of undamaged timber meticulously salvaged, photographed and recorded, categorised and stored in water / airproof containers for storage and hopefull restoration.
The task was enourmous coupled with the significant hazard of rock fall, land destabilisation and structural collapse, however, with innovative planning and development, was almost sucessfully achieved.
Unfortunately, a massive earthquake in July 2011 laid waste to the remaining part of the structure, including some parts of the timeball mechanism, however, Nikau and the NZHPT were able to salvage 70% of the structure prior to this.
The Timeball now sits as a memorial in the Christchurch Museum until restoration plans can start.