I picked up my nephew from Ski School last week and he asked me if I knew who ‘Craig Bonza’ was. I replied in the negative and he regaled me with this tale**:
“Craig Bonza was a Mansfield local, who came up to Buller to work on the installation of the new chairlift at Burnt Hut Spur.
The bottom station of this lift, in a moment of delicious irony, was struck by lightning and was burned beyond repair. In a fantastic move it was decided to replace the lift on a different axis in order to remove the lift towers from the middle of the run, vastly improving the area. Environmental Permission took forever meaning we were without a chairlift for this area for two winters, but finally permission was received and the work could begin.
Firstly the trees were cleared from the chairlift line, and the next step was to pour the concrete footings for the towers.
Craig Bonza was part of the crew building this chairlift, and by all accounts he was a ‘good bloke’ – he worked hard and was appreciated by his co-workers. We asked local ‘Macka’ to decribe Craig – he replied ‘Strewth he’s a good cobber, stone the crows if he isn’t a flamin’ fair dinkum top bloke, and his wife is a top sheila to boot! He’s a dinky-di bewdy Aussie digger’
But one day while pouring the footings for a tower, there was a terrible accident and Craig slipped & fell into the fresh concrete.
This is where the story gets a little fuzzy, the younger kids maintain that he was dragged out just in time but a work glove remains in the footing, whereas the older ski school kids pass on a far more macabre version – Craig has been permanently entombed in the footing, with just his outstretched finger tips visible at the base of Tower #4.
The Bonza Chair was dedicated in his name & a permanent reminder of the hard working, good bloke ‘Craig Bonza’.
**Naturally this is a massive pisstake. And really funny. But in lieu of any official explanation for this strange choice of lift name, the kids instructors took it amongst themselves to have a bit of fun and create a story for their students.
I also promise this will be the first and last post on this blog using the word Bonza.