The official opening of the Bill O’Donnell Pioneer Sawmill at Bushtown, in Waimate, took place on Thursday 21 February.Bushtown could be said to be Waimate’s answer to Shantytown on the West Coast and once completed, it promises to be a wonderful attraction for locals and tourists. There are many thousands of native trees and shrubs planted throughout the site. The most important feature of the site is the Bushtown sawmill, which was originally located at Ōwaka in the Catlins. It was then purchased by Bill O’Donnell, who operated it on his property. When the concept of Bushtown was suggested, a committee was formed and the sawmill owner was approached to see if he would consider parting with it. It was sold to Bushtown for the grand sum of $100. After a great deal of hard work the sawmill was assembled, contained in a replica pioneer sawmill building and reinstated to full working condition. It was formally opened on 21 February. Committee members of the Waihao whānau were invited to the opening. [Read more…]