A large elongated sign paying homage to a legendary All Black has been lovingly restored to its former glory.

For years the sign 'The home of the Paekakariki Express' has been on display on a residential fence in Paekakariki.

The sign has been very visible to motorists from State Highway 1 as well as commuters passing through the Paekakariki Railway Station.

It refers to Christian Cullen, who was nicknamed the Paekakariki Express, and appeared early on when the rugby icon became famous.

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Christian Cullen cruises in for a try during 1997 All Blacks versus Wallabies test in Dunedin. Photo / NZ Herald
Christian Cullen cruises in for a try during 1997 All Blacks versus Wallabies test in Dunedin. Photo / NZ Herald

Cullen, who grew up in Paekākāriki, played for the All Blacks 58 times from 1996-2002 and was known for his electric broken field running and try scoring ability.

But over the years the sign has slowly succumbed to the elements, overgrown vegetation and vandalism in the form of graffiti.

It had become a sorry and depressing sight.

Delapidated signage.
Delapidated signage.

But about a year ago an approach was made to the Paekākāriki Community Board that the sign was taonga and needed care and attention.

The idea stepped up a gear when residents Trevor and Frances Broatch applied to the board for $200 towards paint needed to help restore the sign.

The community stepped up and a combined effort was made to deep clean the sign, totally repaint it, and, to top it all off, create a garden in front of it courtesy of the Kāpiti Coast District Council's gardening team.

Refreshed and visually appealing. Photo / David Haxton
Refreshed and visually appealing. Photo / David Haxton

"It's a really good example of community working together for a really easy straightforward outcome," board chairwoman Holly Ewens said.

"If we could have more of that it would be great.

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"I totally applaud the generosity of these volunteers and the quick and helpful response of council staff.

"The community board can't take the credit really.

"Frances emailed me with her idea and I simply connected her to others in the community, to funding options and to the appropriate council staff.

"But it's a cool reminder of the key role community board's have in enabling such initiatives.

"History is a taonga and these folks helped save a little bit of it."