The iconic Tokoroa Pine Man has been temporarily taken down after a routine inspection discovered rot in some parts of the sculpture.
The Pine Man, also know as Chainsaw Man, has been watching over Tokoroa's Leith Place for the past 17 years and since the street's upgrade, also overlooked the newly developed Talking Pole Forest.
The Tokoroa Talking Pole Forest is a collection of to date 46 sculptures that depict the variety of cultures in the South Waikato community. Because of the district's forestry heritage, many of the poles are made from pine and other local woods.
Originally commissioned by the local Rotary Club, the Pine Man was carved by artist Peter Dooley who will now take care of the restoration.
Dooley says: "I'm really pleased council made contact with me to come back to Tokoroa to work on the Pine Man. I remember vividly carving him back in 2003. Initially he took me five months to carve and was quite a big job. Obviously - he's a big guy!"
South Waikato District mayor Jenny Shattock says: "I was in the Rotary Club and on the committee to have the Pine Man done. We wanted something to represent the strong forestry community. Over the years it has become an icon of Tokoroa, very popular with visitors."
The sculpture has been well looked after and regularly received preservative coatings, but over the years weather and elements have had an impact on the Pine Man. Damage includes several holes and cracks that need restoring and filling.
Shattock says: "We weren't expecting to take the Pine Man down, but we had him regularly looked at and he has just gotten to a stage where he needed to come down, because he started to rot at the bottom half of his legs."
Dooley says it is hard to see exactly how much restoration work is needed and damage is still being assessed.
"It's looking a bit worse than initially thought, like his left arm that has a fair bit of damage. We will be identifying solutions and are still in the diagnosis stage for parts of him. Having said that, I am sure it is all fixable and I am confident that we'll get him back on his feet soon."
The restoration process is expected to take about two months.
Meanwhile, it is looking worse for the Green Man, carved in 2004 by Andy Hancock, while it was still a growing tree.
Shattock says: "This carving wasn't meant to last forever, we knew it had a limited life span. In 2014, the Green Man first started to develop rot, but we had it cut off at ground level and put into concrete. In 2018 we had to remove him permanently, because he couldn't be restored anymore. The wood got soft and it became really unsafe."
Before removing, a council team took a 3D scan of the sculpture.
"The plan is to bring him back and reproduce him in one form or another," Shattock says.
South Waikato District Council is also reviewing the Talking Pole Policy to capture maintenance, development of new poles and end of life options as poles reach the end of their natural life.
Shattock says: "We are definitely looking at growing the [Talking Pole] forest and want to develop new poles. Local iwi currently have a raukawa pole carved. We will also have to replace some other poles and keep adding to the forest as we can afford to."
Not all poles are made out of wood, some are steel and tiles.
"We leave the medium up to the artists [creating the poles]."