Ngaio signs spruced up

Have you noticed the new look Ngaio signs? They have changed colour.

The original macrocarpa signs were a natural, golden shade, but this finally became too hard for Ngaio Progressive Association to maintain. The boards required re-sanding and re-staining twice a year. They looked wonderful – but were too much work.

Instead, we opted for a new finish. The signs now have a pigmented stain which shows up against the bush. This coating will be easier to maintain than the original oil-based stain.

New Ngaio sign

Some background history

For many years the only signs identifying Ngaio were traffic signs.

Ngaio Progressive Association decided to remedy this. In 2001 we began planning to make and install signs at the three entrances to the suburb: Khandallah Road, Ngaio Gorge Road and Waikowhai Street.

We had received a very generous donation of $5,000 from a local resident who was gravely ill and wanted to support the work we were doing to enhance the appearance of the suburb. We decided to use the donation for the signs.

After several false starts, the Association agreed on the design that is now familiar to everyone. The idea was to have a simple sign with a simple message about the suburb as a place with a stunning natural environment that was cherished by residents.

We decided on macrocarpa signs with grouted name and the profile of hills including the Crow’s Nest and the nearby Knoll. A local resident sourced the three slabs of timber and had signs made up. In due course they were installed – but not before Resource Consents had been obtained from the City Council.

We erected the first sign on a very untidy gorse-covered roadside on Khandallah Road which we cleared using a digger. The other two signs were more straightforward.

The final step was to plant around the signs. This was a small job at two of the sites but the large, cleared area on Khandallah Road was another matter. The Association bought plants and organised a working bee to put them in.

Unfortunately, the next summer was very dry, threatening the plants’ survival. They needed regular watering for a couple of months using the hose and tap of a resident across the road.

After ten years the signs all fit nicely into their natural backgrounds.

The original appearance of the signs was striking with the natural golden colour of the macrocarpa a special feature. As we were keen to retain the original colour we gave the signs a clear oil stain.

Twice a year the signs needed to be sanded and restained. This worked well for a number of years but the original colour became increasingly hard to maintain. They have now been coated with a pigmented stain in a colour chosen to show up against the signs’ bushy surroundings.


The Khandallah Road sign has had a chequered history. When Transrail began upgrading the railway track a couple of years ago the sign was badly damaged by machinery and had to be mended. A few months later in another mishap it was virtually destroyed. Transrail came to the party and paid for a new sign. Fortunately the maker of the original had the design stored on a computer and was able to produce a new one without difficulty. It was installed at a safer distance from the access route to the railway line.

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