Email from Des Hatfull on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 1:10 PM


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I was interested to read your letter to editor in Trade a Boat. I used to work for the old Ministry of Works and Development government department and one of the things we used to do was maintain lighthouses. I think in about Oct 1978 we automated Cape Brett and another guy and I from Auckland and some others from Whangarei spent a couple of weeks there installing the new light. For some reason the Marine Department (as it was back then, now MSA) decided not to use the existing tower and we installed the fibreglass structure that is there now. I also automated Mokohinau (1980), Cuvier Is (1982) and Tiri Tiri (1984) but at those ones we removed the old lamp arrangements and installed complete new equipment in the existing towers. I've since had a strong interest in lighthouses and have heaps of photos etc. and have visited lots in NZ and Aust.

Are you looking at a project to restore the old tower, it looks somewhat neglected by MSA. I would be interested in helping with any restoration work if you are. I know in Australia the AMSA often sell the lighthouse stations including the towers to local parks or organisations etc and then lease space inside the tower to house the light apparatus. I understand MSA was considering a similar approach in some cases here as well although I also understand they still have an interest in the history and won't completely ignore some of the older large ex manned lighthouse towers even if they choose not to use them for lights (eg Cape Brett)  

Attached are some old photos of the automation project. I think the guy in the dinghy suspended from the crane is the last lighthouse keeper, I forget his name but I seem to recall he went to Fullers as one of their tourist boat skippers. I also seem to recall that a week or two before we went there another relief lighthouse keeper fell to his death off a cliff while chasing goats.  


Des Hatfull
Electrix Ltd