Thursday, January 7, 2010
Lake Kaniere, is one of those moody, spiritual lakes, that beckons you into the high mountains beyond. Photo: Ebenezer Teichelmann
Today I would like to post an extract from my book on Ebenezer Teichelmann, showing the role he played in getting scenic reserve status.
Teichelmann’s participation in the team which pioneered Arthur’s Pass National Park in 1929 must have encouraged him in his desire to protect the special places of Westland. He was concerned that the scenic values of Lake Kaniere were being eroded through the lack of a local management committee to monitor and protect the area.
Sometime in December 1933, Dr Teichelmann approached the Commissioner for Crown Lands in Hokitika to discuss a number of issues concerning the Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve. On 21 December, 1933, the Commissioner wrote to the Under Secretary for Lands in Wellington.
‘Dr Teichelmann, at the instance of the local branch of the Automible [sic] Association and the Acclimatisation Society, which also acts as a local branch of the Tourist Department, recently interviewed me regarding the prospects of this department undertaking improvements on the Lake Kanieri [sic] Reserve…
‘Incidentally the question of having the control of the reserve formally vested in a local board of control was discussed in which connection it was agreed that this would probably meet with the approval of local people and give an impetus to local interest in the reserve. The Doctor inquired if, in the event of a local Board taking control it would control the revenue from the leasing of boatshed sites granted on the edge of the Lake. I advised him that I would also refer this question to Head Office.’
In his reply 15 days later, the Under-Secretary for Lands advised that there was no prospect of a Government grant or subsidy this year, but that his office would be pleased to see a special Scenic Reserve Board formed to control the reserve, and that revenue from leasing the boat-shed sites could be made available in the future for the Board’s purposes.
Correspondence in the months that follow on the Lands and Survey file show that Dr Teichelmann was the driving force behind empowering local people to take control of the Lake Kaniere Reserve. On many of the letters in the file there are handwritten notes from officials of the Lands and Survey Office, Hokitika, saying ‘discussed with Dr Teichelmann.’ The New Zealand Gazette, number 71, 20 September 1934, announced officially the ‘Vesting of Control of a Scenic Reserve in the Lake Kaniere Scenic Board by Bledisloe, Governor General.’
The following people were nominated for a period of five years: The Mayor of Hokitika, The Chairman of Westland District Council, The Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Westland Land District, The Conservator of Forests for the Westland Forest-Conservation region, Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann, David John Evans and John Noble Robinson.
At the first meeting on 8 October, 1934, a ground committee of Dr Teichelmann, S. C. Darby, Conservator of Forests and J. N. Robinson, was appointed to report in regard to matters for attention at Lake Kaniere.
Dr. Teichelmann had a small batch at Lake Kaniere and spent a lot of time exploring the lake and environs.
The first annual report of the Board shows a far-sighted and hardworking group. They cleared large areas of blackberry, erected notice boards regarding fire control, the destruction of flora, swimming and water pollution; and appointed honorary rangers. They were among the first in New Zealand to express concern about the effects possums, stoats, weasels and rats were having upon native birds. They voiced their concern:
‘The decision of the controlling department to discontinue issuing permits to trap opossums on scenic reserves had caused the Board some concern as it is considered that trappers are responsible for the destruction of much vermin of these reserves such as stoats, weasels and rats. Moreover from enquiries made it is ascertained that the damage done to bush on scenic reserves by trappers is almost negligible, and it is more than favourably offsetted [sic] by the destruction of vermin mentioned which are the natural enemies of our native birds.’
Teichelmann’s involvement in the Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve Board grew in its first three years, and it became a very effective nature preservation body, but at the same time encouraging recreation. The Doctor's experience from serving on the Arthur’s Pass National Park Board was proving invaluable to steering the Kaniere Board in similar directions. Both reserves today are substantially attributable to the vision of this man. Here was a fine example of one man making a difference.
Doctor Teichelmann was a man with a belief in the preservation of nature for the benefit of all people. But his convictions did not exist solely in the purchase of a few glossy photography books to show visitors, or even the membership of a conservation organization. He lobbied and fought unselfishly for those long term goals. He suffered hardships to explore and record those wonders for those who did not have the means to access the wilderness. He was a man who lived what he preached.