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July 2015 Issue
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Pigeon post, July 2015

Stewart Island sing song

As we neared the end of our journey over the North West Circuit on Stewart Island, my friend Lydia Paul and I were inspired to compose this song encapsulating our experiences of the trip.

Oh my darling Stewart Island

(Sung to the tune of ‘Clementine’)


It is rainy, it is muddy,
It is all so very wild.
Golden beaches, tow’ring rimu,
Lots of kiwi out there too.


Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Stewart Island
So enchanting are your reaches
Oh my darling Stewart Island.


Though we tried to keep our feet dry
it was all to no avail;
Pouring rain and rolling thunder,
There were even showers of hail!


See the bellbirds, hear their chorus
Singing sweetly in the trees.
Lots of pigeons, tiny tomtits
Merry tweeting on the breeze.


Muddy boots and muddy gaiters
Muddy legs and muddy packs.
It can hardly be avoided
‘cause we’re walking muddy tracks!


It is pleasant meeting people;
Fellow trampers, hunters too.
Swapping stories, telling tales
Some of which may not be true.


Christmas Village, Yankee River;
The names are oh so quaint.
Come prepared or turn around now
for an easy walk it aint!


Stewart Island, Stewart Island
Stewart Island you’re the best!
Some day I will go back there
Don my boots and walk the rest.

– Heather Davidson


Cullers still under canvas

The article ‘How the cullers once lived’ (April, 2015) was timely. The NZ Deer Cullers Society holds reunions on a regular basis, the latest being in March this year. While the number of aged cullers who attend is reducing due to attrition, we seek to remember the people and lifestyle that was normal in those days.
At each reunion we have set up a tent camp. The one pictured here was used for accommodation by some of those attending the March reunion. The authenticity is down to detail, with the mantle piece being ornately identified and beds made from sacking (which history tells us became dreadful to sleep on after a while).

The March reunion was held at Kuripapango, at the base of the Gentle Annie on the Napier-Taihape Road. Kuripapango was a base for the cullers who shot in the Kaweka Range and the area has some significant history dating back to the horse and cart days and the opening up of the central high country to farming in the late 1800s.

It is gratifying to know that interest in the culling history is being maintained elsewhere, but the temporary nature of the tent camps is also their undoing as the elements are very hard on the canvas structure.

Paul van der Voort.



Conservation Boards’ value

In response to Barbara Morris’ article about Conservation Boards (‘Community voice or muzzled lip-service?’, April 2015), it is important to understand that Conservation Boards are statutory bodies. They provide community input into conservation planning and management at a regional level. Their functions and powers are set out in Sections 6M and 6N of the Conservation Act 1987 and in Section 30 of the National Parks Act 1980. They are advisory bodies; not boards of directors.

Approximately one third of the members’ terms expire in any one year. This introduces new expertise and voice at the ‘conservation table’; and supports succession within the Board.

The Conservation Boards perform a vital role – among other things they lead the consultation and submission process on the conservation management strategy (CMS) for their region and monitor progress with its implementation; raise and address conservation issues with the local DOC officers and mana whenua; and approve conservation plans and variations to this. As Morris notes, this work is very rewarding.

We are optimistic that the challenges she experiences are being addressed but note too that the nature of the board’s work does involve extensive consultation with parties with diverse viewpoints and requires legislatively prescribed processes to be adhered to.

We welcome your readers to nominate someone from their community. These are sought in January each year. Information about the application process is available on the DOC website.

Warren Parker, chairperson, New Zealand Conservation Authority


Cover image real

For much of my nearly 60 years I have been pretty active in the New Zealand alpine climbing, tramping, multisport and wilderness fishing scenes and have rediscovered Wilderness magazine in the last few years. My wife and I always find items of interest. Well done.

Now, a quibble! The photographs published are normally a feature of the magazine and of high quality, but I feel your June cover shot was not a good effort. The composite photo of Plateau Hut, Cinerama Col, Grand Plateau and East Ridge of Aoraki shows an area I know well but just looks really strange, especially the mis-shapen hut cantilevered out over the Hochstetter Icefall.

The night sky looks very fine, however!

– Dennis Clark

– Dennis isn’t the only person who spotted the strange visual effect on our cover. The mis-shapen hut is the result, we’re told, of using an extremely wide-angle 15mm lens – not post-photo manipulation or photoshopping to create a composite image. – AH


Something every tramper should carry

The article on Greg Ross’ traumatic eight-day ordeal in the bush (‘A dislocated tale’, June 2015) highlights the need for one of the most important items every tramper should carry: a personal locator beacon (PLB). Every person who sets foot in the bush, whether for a one-hour walk or a tramp of several days, should have one.

It saddens me to read about someone getting hurt or going missing when all along there is a simple solution. Just imagine if Ross had been carrying a PLB. The article would have only been a couple of paragraphs long. The sentence beginning ‘Realising that struggle would only make matters worse’ would have ended with ‘Ross set off his PLB, climbed into his sleeping bag and within a few hours the sound of the helicopter could be heard coming to pick him up’.

The risk of dying from hypothermia wouldn’t have been on the agenda.

I may be harsh in saying so, but people who venture out without a PLB have rocks in their head. Are they not selfish, giving no thought to anybody but themselves? Do they think if something happened to them, their family back home would celebrate when they don’t turn up on time?

If everyone carried a PLB, there would never have been a programme on TV like ‘I shouldn’t be alive’ because there wouldn’t be anybody to base the programme on.

Richard Ronald