The restoration of Scotts ferry barge will be celebrated on Saturday, September 29, at Scotts Ferry.

At the small ceremony will be MP Ian McKelvie, David Watt from Heritage NZ, Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson and some of the Scott descendants.

The ferry is of significant maritime heritage and is a project the Bulls and Districts Historical Society has been excited to be involved with, together with many other sponsors.

The restored, historic barge at the entrance to Scotts Ferry is a rare reminder of the importance ferries played in New Zealand in the days before bridges were common.


By 1843 a ferry service had been established at Parewanui to take people across the mouth of the Rangitikei River.

And in 1850 Thomas Scott took on the duties of ferryman as well as establishing a trading post and accommodation house at Parewanui.

Scott made agreements with local Maori, trading wheat, Indian corn and pigs, which meant the popularity of Parewanui increased as more Pakeha settlers moved up the coast with their stock to take up their land in the Whanganui region and beyond.

When the Manawatu and Rangitikei county councils were established they took over the ferry service, continuing to employ Scott as the ferryman.

After Scott died in January 1892 his widow, Charlotte, and her son took over the service.

But five years later a large flood tore along the banks of the river, destroying all bridges in its path and changing the course of the Rangitikei. The port was destroyed and the ferry site washed away.

The old barge was sold to the Featherstone family at Parikino where the new owners used it to transfer stock across the Whanganui River.

Because a planned maritime museum in the 1970s never eventuated it meant the old barge gradually sank into the mud of the riverbank.


However, in 1989 the barge was raised and sited near the original Scotts Ferry site and a year later, In 1990, was restored by members of the local community.

Today, the Scotts Ferry site is a rare memorial to that early form of transport.

Scotts Ferry resident Kevin Ellory, a retired engineer, said working on the old barge had been a labour of love.

"It really has been a special job for me."