When Waipa's old sawmill was demolished three years ago, one of the workers spotted an old horizontal bandsaw among the scrap metal. "That looks like a bike," he reckoned.
Now that old machinery that was part of decades of iconic Rotorua history has been made into a sculpture that will become a landmark at the entrance to Rotorua's Waipa Mountain Bike Park.
The sculpture was built and fully funded by Red Stag Timber, which maintains the grounds around the popular park.
The 16-tonne sculpture has officially been blessed this week and is already catching the eye of locals and visitors.
Red Stag Timber general manager Tim Rigter said it was made from recycled sawmill machinery taken from the original 1930s mill. The new super mill was opened in 2017 and the former sawmill was demolished in 2019.
Rigter said he wanted the sculpture to celebrate the progress of change at Waipa since the mill's introduction in 1939, to process timber from exotic forest, to now, including the new mill and the iconic mountain biking centre.
At the time of pulling down the old mill, demolition supervisor Keith Frew spotted the resemblance an old bandsaw had to a bike. Rigter agreed and a project team was put together.
Sawmill operations manager Andy Archer got the pencil out and drew up a "steampunk" idea he had in mind and gave it to engineering contractor Alex Miller, who, along with Karl Mossong and Lincoln Taylor, got to work.
Many hours of finding scrap parts in the "graveyard" - which is what they call the old sawmill - were spent to create the final product.
Rigter said it's different but it's fitting for the area.
"Everyone takes a look at it and says 'what the heck is that?' but when you know the background, it's quite cool."
Each part has a history. The helmet is made from an old conveyor tail drum, the bike callipers are made from bits of a Wagna L80 log stacker, the riders' fingers are made from old hydraulic pipes and the two large foundations depicting mountains are made from steam drums built in 1907 that each weigh three tonnes.
The bike itself weighs 10 tonnes and 110 tonnes of concrete was needed to hold the entire 16-tonne sculpture in place. Two cranes were needed over a day and a half to install it.
Rigter said there were several delays over lockdowns and working around busy operations but it was rewarding to see it standing proudly now.
"Many Rotorua residents and visitors to the city come out to Waipa Valley to enjoy the surrounding forests and upgraded facilities. Those who have worked in the original sawmill can take some pride in the machinery's new place and purpose."
He said it cost about $150,000 to build but as a business, they were proud to fully fund it.
"With so much history and past use, the sculpture celebrates the mill's history and the people who have contributed to Waipa Mill's success over the past 83 years."
Vanessa Miller from Trail Kitchen, based in the heart of the mountain bike park, described the sculpture as "glorious".
"It's so perfect and we've had so many comments from people. Now we have a landmark and can tell people just turn at the big bike."