A 14-tonne gun turret from a ship used during battle in World War II has been restored and is now on display in Maungatapere.

Work on the gun from the HMNZS Achilles, a Leander-class light cruiser famous for its role in the Battle of the River Plate, has been completed at the Packard and Pioneer Museum.

"The rot has been stopped. Effectively the turret has been saved," said museum manager Richard Easton.

"It's a piece of New Zealand history that has been saved, a very important piece of history."


HMNZS Achilles was commissioned in 1933 and served with the Royal Navy until transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1941.

About 60 per cent of her wartime crew of 680 men were New Zealanders.

"She saw action notably alongside the Exeter and Ajax in the Battle of the River Plate. Four young sailors were killed when she took a direct hit, and a direct hit usually results in fatalities," Mr Easton said.

The ship was sold to the Indian Navy in 1948 and scrapped in 1978.

The gun turret, housing two four-inch guns with a range of 15km, was based outside since the late Graeme Craw acquired the former Maungatapere dairy factory shop and milk powder stores after the factory was closed in 1988. "It was exposed to the elements," Mr Easton said.

Over two years it has been sandblasted, had the rotten panels repaired, primed, sandblasted again, primed again, then heavily coated in epoxy marine coating in battleship grey, its original colour.

The project was accomplished thanks to cash or donations of labour and materials by Pub Charity, Rudolphs Sandblasting and Coatings, Yovich Engineering, The Four Winds Trust, Atlas Cranes, and others. Mr Easton said had the museum had to pay for the full cost of the restoration it would have "run into the tens of thousands".

"Thanks to all the people who came on board with it to help with the restoration, this World War II gun turret has been saved for ever," he said.


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