The restoration of Hinemihi
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During the middle of the 20th century Hinemihi underwent a significant change in her structure and by the end of World War Two the old meeting house was in need of repair. In 1956, Clandon and its gardens – including Hinemihi - were donated by Gwendolen, Countess Iveagh to The National Trust.
We asked New Zealand’s High Commission in London for help with a 1960s Hinemihi restoration programme and the request was referred to various Maori organisations. New Zealand contacts made financial contributions to the cost of restoration, along with a supply of totora timber for the ridgepole, wall slabs and rafters.
Further refurbishment work was undertaken in 1979 by the English firm of J. W. Draper & Sons of Titchfield, Hampshire, specialists in restoring historic wooden buildings. We consulted with a range of experts prior to the restoration work, which included a new front wall, door, and window; the interior front carved roof support (poutahu) was turned around to its correct position; all carvings were cleaned and repainted.
Eric Draper later recalled that the we had little visual material available for him to copy apart from an old photograph taken of Hinemihi at Te Wairoa a few days after the eruption, showing her roof covered in volcanic debris. Innocently mistaking several tons of rooftop debris as traditional English thatch, Mr. Draper replaced the thin straw thatch roof with a thick covering of Norfolk reeds - good enough to last 30 years or more.