Holding a priceless piece of history in his gloved hands, he is quick to recognise the significance of his
“It certainly is a unique job. I really enjoy the variety, but at the same time I am certainly aware of the sense of responsibility which comes with it.”
At 29, Izaac Randell is New Zealand’s youngest stained-glass window conservator.
He is responsible for restoring and preserving stained glass windows – special glimpses into New Zealand’s past – and it is thought Christchurch-based Randell is not only country’s youngest conservator, but also one of only about a dozen in New Zealand qualified to carry out the work.
He has been in the industry for a decade and was trained by his boss at Stewart Stained Glass, Victor Stewart.
And last week, under Victor’s watchful eye, Randell had the rare opportunity to briefly hold pieces of almost 170 years of history in his hands.
The News watched as he painstakingly removed each piece of the “stunning” stained glass window at one of the Waikato’s only two category one historic buildings – St Paul’s Church on Rangiaowhia Rd – in preparation for it to be refurbished.
He then traced them over corresponding plastic replicas, cut them out and adhered them to where the original window once was.
From start to finish, the process took about two hours.
“You certainly can’t rush it, Randell said.
The News first reported in August the St Paul’s window, and one at the region’s other category one historic building, Te Awamutu’s Old St John’s Church, needed an upgrade projected to cost nearly $150,000.
Both buildings are part of the Te Awamutu St John’s Anglican Parish and the St Paul’s window is being prioritised because it was described as “critical” by an expert when quotes for the work were last sought.
Parish priest Reverend Julie Guest has previously spoken of the sense of responsibility she feels in ensuring the windows – “priceless taonga” – are well cared for.
St Paul’s Church on Rangiaowhia Rd opened in 1856.
Stewart told The News his father Graham – who runs Stewart Stained Glass and has “multiple
decades” of experience conserving stained glass windows – was involved in the most recent refurbishment work thought to have been carried out on the St Paul’s Church window about 30 years ago.
The St Paul’s window was driven to Christchurch in a specialist storage trailer, where the company will keep it in “safe hands” until St John’s can raise the money it needs to have the refurbishment completed.
“It is not an exaggeration to say it is a privilege to be entrusted with the work we do,” Stewart added.
Randell said he enjoys the fact his line of work takes him all over New Zealand.
“You really get a first-hand sense of some of the history of our country and is it amazing.”
Unique places on his resume to date include work on windows at Wellington’s Government House and
at Christ Church Cathedral following the Christchurch earthquake.
Meanwhile, St John’s Anglican parish’s fundraising committee will continue to work to find ways to fund
Last month’s St John’s Anglican Church Gala Day contributed $4000 to fund raising efforts.