Restored Climax 1317 steam engine one step closer to ‘home’


Staff member
Press Release
Dateline 30 Aug 2022


Climax 1317 Trust treasurer Allen Rounthwaite on board the restored locomotive.

A meticulously restored Climax 1317 locomotive steam engine looks set to go back on display in Te Awamutu – but not for a while yet.
Former Te Awamutu mayor, the late Jonas Smyth, gifted the former bush tramway engine to Te Awamutu in the late 1950’s. For 48 years, it was a much-loved play item for children, sited at the Te Awamutu War Memorial Park.

In 2003, Council agreed the locomotive should be restored, and supported the Te Awamutu Lions Club to form the Climax 1317 Trust. The following year the much-loved engine – pummelled after years of play - was moved into premises leased by the Council where it has been meticulously repaired and refurbished by volunteers.

After 16 years of painstaking work, as well as fundraising, the restoration project is now complete.
Today Council agreed it would work with the Climate 1317 Trust to identify a new Te Awamutu location so the restored steam engine can serve as a visitor attraction. Council has already allocated $100,000 to help shift the engine to its new home but more fundraising for a purpose-built storage and display building will be required.

Council chief executive Garry Dyet said an exact resting place for the restored steam engine had not yet been determined, but it should be somewhere high-profile and easily accessible. The engine would not go back into a playground, he said.

“A lot of folk in Te Awamutu will have very fond memories of the steam engine; lots of people will recall clambering all over it when they were kids. But it has historical value and will be of much wider interest. We need to honour the original gift plus the hours and hours of restoration work undertaken by volunteers.”
“The general area around the Te Ara Wai precinct site - the old Bunnings building - is an option that’s been broadly agreed. We haven’t pin-pointed exactly where because we would want to ensure the location of the steam engine doesn’t detract from Te Ara Wai, and vice versa.“

Dyet acknowledged “fundraising challenges” would likely mean that putting the locomotive back on public display might be some years away. Council would have a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Climax 1317 Trust to keep the project on track, he said. In the meantime Council would continue to securely store the locomotive and the Climax 1317 Trust would continue to maintain it.

“It’s really been a labour of love for those involved and now it’s a case of working with all parties, including mana whenua and the wider community, to get the best possible outcome. For some people there will be a sense of the steam engine coming home, so let’s make sure we get it right.”


After 48 years based in a playground, the steam engine was in desperate need of refurbishment.