From left Scrapit HB owner Des Bristow, foreman Tim Knight and Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst with the trowel that was found in a safe at the Opera House.

Historic treasures hearkening back to the opening of the Hastings Municipal Theatre, and a prominent Hastings street, have been unearthed during the renovation of the Hawke’s Bay Opera House and Arts precinct.

A silver trowel and small pair of silver scissors, both in their original velvet-lined boxes, might have disappeared forever if not for the curiosity of a local scrap metal dealer keen to find out what was in a safe that had been dropped off by the Opera House precinct contractors.

Scrapit HB Ltd owner Des Bristow and foreman Tim Knight gave the items to Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst this week having found them in a safe that was destined to be recycled offshore.

Mr Bristow said Mr Knight took it upon himself to find out what was in the locked safe before it was sent away, prying it open with an excavator and cutter.

“Tim went the extra mile – we knew we had found something special when we saw what was inside.”

An engraving on the trowel identifies it as having been presented to Hastings Mayor William M Hart by Stanley Brothers to commemorate the laying of the foundation at the Hastings Municipal Building on February 9, 1916.

A small plaque on the scissors box noted they were presented to Mrs W Hart “mayoress” on the occasion of opening Russell Street, formerly named Station St, Hastings, on October 16, 1922.

Mrs Hazlehurst said she was very grateful to the team at Scrapit for finding our community treasures.

She said both pieces would be put on display when the project was complete, probably alongside other historical treasures that have been found throughout the Opera House strengthening project.