Bob Anderson painting Downes Hut
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Longstanding Taumarunui volunteer, painter Bob Anderson (aka Sideshow Bob) has finished another major painting project for the DOC on the Whanganui River.

Date:  07 February 2018

The historic Downes Hut on the right bank of the Whanganui River opposite Atene has a new lease of life after Sideshow Bob painted both the interior and exterior just before the new year.

Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson at the 2017 NZ Master Painters Awards
Image: NZ Master Painters National Office ©

DOC Operations Manager Jasmine Hessell said the project has been two years in the making, with Bob staying at the hut for several days to complete the work. "Bob has been incredible, keeping this project in sight for such a long period of time. I have to acknowledge his volunteer ethic, expertise and drive to get the job done."

Downes Hut is the latest of a series of voluntary painting projects completed by Sideshow Bob. Previous projects have won the Community Goodwill section of the NZ Master Painters annual awards, including Whakahoro Hut inside and out, the interior of John Coull Hut and the kitchen at Tieke. Downes Hut is being entered in this year's awards.

Community Ranger Scotty Moore says Bob has been determined and flexible, patient and generous, with a jetboat ride across the awa being the only expense incurred to the Department. The paint was supplied by Dulux through the "Protecting our Place" partnership with DOC.

About Downes Hut

Downes Hut was built by historian, ethnologist and river works supervisor Thomas William (T.K.) Downes whose long association with the Whanganui River began in the early 1900s. In 1921 the Wanganui River Trust appointed him supervisor of river works and ranger for the domain lands within its jurisdiction. According to author Arthur P. Bates, it was said that Downes knew the full length of the Whanganui River better than any other European.

Downes bought land from local iwi and built the hut, basing himself there often. When he passed away in 1938, the land and hut was gifted to the Whanganui River Trust and was maintained by Lands and Survey through the 1960s-80s until DOC was formed in 1987.

DOC Operations Manager Jasmine Hessell said DOC completed some restoration work in 1987. "We put in a new tank in 2016 and improved the chimney and fireplace. There are also plans to reconfigure the interior to make it more practical and user friendly. "The hut is being used more partly due to canoeists exploring south of Pipiriki. Also, Te Araroa trail users find the option of boating the Taumarunui to Whanganui section a great opportunity to rest and recover leg fitness."

"The hut looks pretty sharp now," Bob said. "Definitely worth the wait! I go jetboating down the river quite a bit – it's a nice area, and if you can do something to help out, it's quite good."


Susan Osborne, Senior Community Ranger, Whanganui
Mobile: +64 27 5690 970

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