Field Hut 83rd Birthday Work Party
3-4 November 2007
The first weekend in November, 1924, saw the official TTC opening of Field hut. There were three icons of the Club involved – Joe Gibbs and co-founders Fred Vosseler and Willie Field. Joe, along with club volunteers built the hut, including pit sawing some of the timber from adjacent trees. Willie Field, also the Otaki MP, gained a government tourism grant of 450 pounds for the project, and Fred Vosseler (then Club President) oversaw and opened the hut. So on 3 November 2007, seven of us set off from Otaki Forks to celebrate Field’s 83rd birthday with a spring-cleaning work party and birthday party. The sun shone as we walked up and lunched. But mist descended by mid afternoon.
The good news was that the colony of rats that had been at the hut in March had disappeared. This was presumably because of the bait station we had loaded then, and because we had blocked the rat highway from under the bottom bunks. The bait station, which had been gnawed badly, was re-filled.
Six people painted the upstairs walls, covering the schoolboy graffiti, and the cream-coloured paint lightened up the room significantly. Outside others gathered wood and cleaned the tanks, roofs and gutters and cut the vegetation and cleaned the drains. Tony Gates and friends dropped in, returning from their training run, late in the afternoon as we were lighting the candles on the 83rd Birthday cake. We all participated in photo-ing and eating it. Other passers-by dropped in throughout the afternoon. It was disappointing to find two of the display boxes had had their wood frames stripped and presumably burnt in the fire and that DOC’s Field Hut sign had been removed. The removal of nearby trees has reduced the risk of windfall on the hut and improved its dryness and lighting levels.
Barbara and Anne cooked the stew, Hugh provided the champagne and Michael provided a sumptuous cheesecake for dinner. Overnight and next morning it rained steadily. We continued the hut spring clean in the morning, spot painting dingy parts, and leaving the hut spick and span, but with a list of jobs to do offsite. It was a wet trip back in the rain, with the track running mostly as a watercourse. The Waiotauru and Otaki were both in impressive flood. The new bridge is not yet finished and will follow the old road up to the grassed eastern terrace above Parawai hut. Back in Wellington, the sun was shining. Field Hut was the first tramping hut in New Zealand built by a mountain club, and has historic recognition because of this.
The Work party was a very satisfying way to celebrate its birthday. Thanks to all those on the trip for their enthusiasm.
- Party members
- Chris Butt, Barbara Camfield, David Holland, Richard Howell, Anne Marsden. Front: Michael Taylor, Hugh Barr.