Many people were angered and aggrieved when the last visible remnant of a 147-year-old shipwreck disappeared at Te Kohanga (Ahipara) in August last year.

It was believed at the time that the elements had finally got the better of the crack shaft, albeit aided and abetted by the actions of Ahipara man Reuben Taipari Porter, who had attempted to cut it down in December 2014.

His disc grinder did not cut right through the shaft, but was generally accepted as weakening it to the point where heavy swells finally finished the job.

Now the rusted wrought iron crank shaft, the last visible sign of the 59-tonne Australian-built paddle steamer The Favourite, which ran aground on April 1, 1870, has been restored, courtesy of Kaitaia Engineering.

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Marty Dusevich and his crew went to the beach (colloquially known as Shipwreck Bay) on Friday morning, fitting a stainless steel sleeve and returning the shaft to its original position.

They even checked photographs to be sure they had it facing exactly the right way.

"Putting it up was the easy part," Mr Dusevich said. Manufacturing the steel sleeve had been the bigger job, although the restoration had only been possible because a resident had taken the shaft for safe keeping when it collapsed more than a year ago.

Mr Dusevich said the nuts holding the sleeve had been welded so they could never be undone, and he hoped it would still be there in a 100 years time.

The actions of Mr Porter, who claimed to be protesting against the prospect of oil drilling off the Far North's west coast, were praised by some but roundly condemned by most.

He remained unrepentant, however, saying he had learned of the landmark's disappearance via social media, and that his action had at least prompted a robust discussion about the danger that offshore drilling represented to the environment.

He had earlier said he had long disliked the name Shipwreck Bay being applied to the world-class (surfing) beach, claiming that Te Kohanga (the nursery) more accurately reflected the nature of the area.

The Northland Age reported at the time that no one was seen taking what would have likely been a very heavy piece of rusted metal away as a memento, although that theory had not been entirely discounted. It now transpires that it was in safe keeping all the time.