Tough stand on intruders

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Keep out . . . The warning signs spell out the message that trespassers at Cargill's Castle will not be tolerated say (from left) Police Sergeant Trevor Thomson, Cargill's Castle Trust chairman Steven de Graaf, and Police Search and Rescue co-ordinator Nick Wells. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

The Cargill’s Castle Trust and police are getting tough on trespassers at the clifftop site above St Clair.

Trust chairman Steven de Graaf is frustrated that, despite the trust spending $10,000 on security fencing, gates and warning signs in recent months, trespassers are still getting in.

“We have three types of trespassers coming into the castle – curious tourists, local thrill-seekers and taggers,” he said.

Graffiti attacks have been increasing on the 140-year-old castle which, despite being a ruin, has Category 1 historic place status – the same as the Dunedin Railway Station.

“The castle holds an important place in Dunedin’s history – it deserves to be treated with more respect,” Mr de Graaf said.

“We think people have the impression it is abandoned, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

Trespassing at the site was also a significant health and safety issue, as the castle was unstable. Floors were collapsing and there was potential for rubble to fall from walls and the roof, Mr de Graaf said.

“We have had reports from the neighbours of people climbing the fence at night and climbing around the ruins. That is a very dangerous thing to do,” he said.

To compound the issue, people were parking in the driveways of the properties around Cargill’s Castle, blocking access to their homes while they were trespassing.

“That is very annoying for our neighbours and is something we really need to discourage,” Mr de Graaf said.

Cameras installed at the Cargill’s Castle site would capture images of trespassers and police would increase their monitoring of the area.

Sergeant Trevor Thomson, of Dunedin, said the trust had given the police authority to deal with trespassers at the site, which should be off-limits.

“The fences make it very clear that no-one should be in here, and health and safety is a big issue at this site,” Sgt Thomson said.

“It’s time for a firm hand.”

The Cargill’s Castle Trust was formed in 1997 to save the castle ruins on the cliffs above St Clair from demolition.

The trust, which owns the castle, is working with engineers and consultants on plans to stabilise the ruin so it can eventually be reopened to the public.

It is also consulting with the Dunedin City Council, Walking Access NZ, and property owners on plans to get new track formed linking the castle site to Tunnel Beach.

“We understand that the Tunnel Beach track is being used by about 120,000 a year, so it would be fantastic to link with that at some stage,” Mr de Graaf said.