It's been 10 months since I last visited the historic Pourakino Picnic area, and some changes have occurred.
As I drove on the newly regraveled road, the majestic railway engine, Black Maria, came into full view. (I took this photo April 2007). But my usual reverence for this imposing piece of history soon turned to horror.
The engine has been the victim of senseless shooting. My photo of 2007 shows bullet holes but since then the damage has become far more dire.
I would really urge people to stop shooting this priceless piece of history. The engine is there for all of us to understand and appreciate how logging was done so long ago, and to remember those who worked so hard to make Western Southland prosper.
Restoring old engines is an incredibly expensive prospect with many months of meticulous work. There were initial plans for Black Maria to be restored but that was before this recent crime spree. Now I wonder if the project would continue given there is no way to protect the engine from harm.
I hope that if these offenders are ever caught, they will be paying the full price for restoration and all gun privileges taken away. People that are this senseless should not have guns.