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Kiwi ingenuity at its best

The late John Materman, aged 80, moving timber in his custom-built forklift. Photo/Supplied


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Using whatever machinery parts he could find, the late John Materman built a forklift which he used for more than 30 years to transport logs all around Wairarapa.

The forklift has now been moved from Martinborough to its new home at the New Zealand Timber Museum.

In the 1970’s, Mr Materman needed a forklift to transport logs to his portable mill which he used on jobs in Martinborough and all the way up to Alfredton.

Together with the late Stan Waugh, his son Rob of Waugh Engineering and the late Frank Murray, he put together the most unique piece of machinery in town by making the most out of whatever parts they could find.

“He collected all bits and pieces he could find to build it” said his son, Wim Materman.

The driving force behind the forklift came from a Fordson engine with the front transmission and front wheels scavenge from an Aveling-Barford dump truck.

The transmission brake was from a Hillman Hunter disc and calliper and the axle and rear wheels from an International tractor.

Mr Materman’s son said the forklift meant his father could continue doing the work he was passionate about for many years.

“Yes it’s a bitsa but it served John well for 30 odd years.”

The forklift had sat idle for seven years leading up to Mr Materman’s death, but his son was able to get it back up and running again with the help of Brian King, to use it one last time in February 2017.

The Materman family decided to donate the forklift this month to the New Zealand Timber Museum in Putaruru as they thought it was something no one else would likely build again.

“This is one of the original forklifts Stan Waugh built with my father and it was a piece of Martinborough history.

Instead of sending it to the scrap yard, we thought we would give it to the museum” his son said.

Chairman of the museum trust, Tony Jaques, said he was interested in the forklift because his hometown was Pahiatua and his ancestors were from Lansdowne.

“You could say there is a Wairarapa connection with the timber museum.”


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