Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 

Introduction

The 150 attendees at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park 50th anniversary celebrations enjoyed this historic event immensely.

Date:  28 March 2010

The 150 attendees at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park 50th anniversary celebrations, held over the weekend of 26-28 March, enjoyed this historic event immensely. It highlighted the importance of national parks as central to New Zealand identity, and as a vital part of the West Coast economy through tourism.

The Westland National Park birthday cake. Photo: Petr Hvalacek.
The Westland National Park birthday
cake

Present at the event were passionate advocates for protecting public conservation land, and many of the dedicated people who have played a central role in ensuring the protection of the unique mountains to sea landscapes of Westland.

There were sad stories told of those who lost their lives in the park while working or recreating, but also tales of romance – Norm Hardie spoke of meeting his wife Enid when she was working as a waitress in the old hotel, and taking her on an adventure over the Copland Pass. They are still married 67 years later and were both enthusiastic participants in the weekend.

Some of those who couldn’t make it due to age or illness recorded their stories. Peter McCormack’s recording had the audience in stitches at wry recollections of early conservation board meetings.

As part of the events to mark the occasion six juvenile rōwi were released in the Ōkārito kiwi zone after having spent their early years gaining strength and weight on a predator-free island so as to be able to defend themselves against stoats.

Tim Cossar, CEO Tourism Industry Association, and Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation, hold two juvenile kiwi. Photo: Petr Hvalacek.
Tim Cossar, CEO Tourism Industry
Association and Kate Wilkinson, Minister
of Conservation, hold two juvenile kiwi

The six birds from the BNZ Operation Nest Egg programme delighted many who had never seen these rare nocturnal birds. “Wow. Mum, that was a kiwi!” marvelled the grandson of one of the old park rangers.

The newly sealed Franz Josef and Fox Glacier Valley roads were also opened during the weekend by Kate Wilkinson, the Minister of Conservation. A joint project between the NZ Transport Agency and DOC, the upgrade has enhanced the driving experience for visitors.

Displays of historical material and photographs will remain up at the Franz Josef Waiau Visitor Centre for the rest of the year, and the National Park will of course remain as an outstanding destination for all New Zealanders in perpetuity.

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