18 Jan 2017

50 stories in 50 weeks for Trust’s 50th year.

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50 stories to celebrate 50 years of Otago Peninsula Trust.

Otago Peninsula Trust is sharing 50 stories over 50 weeks as part of its 50th birthday celebrations in 2017.

General Manager, Otago Peninsula Trust, Robyn McDonald says “2017 is a very special year for the Trust as we celebrate our 50th birthday. We are sharing stories of the people, places and projects which have contributed to Otago Peninsula Trust’s achievements since 1967.

We’d like to share with people that attractions and facilities they may take for granted, around the Peninsula, at Glenfalloch and The Royal Albatross Colony, have been championed, fundraised for and maintained by a small group of passionate Dunedin people who’ve worked hard to preserve and enhance Otago Peninsula for everyone to enjoy”.

“The stories share interesting items from the Trust’s archives and insights from people who’ve worked on projects over the years. We are so lucky to have two original Board members, Bill Dawson and Laurie Stewart who’ve been part of the Trust’s history for the whole 50 years, and can reveal stories behind the Trust’s projects over that entire period”.

The Otago Peninsula Trust was formed in 1967 by the Dunedin Jaycee Chapter who wanted to see Dunedin flourish and had identified Otago Peninsula as the major asset for the city.

Bill Dawson explains “It was the mid-1960s and Dunedin was in the doldrums. The Chapter  surveyed over 200 leading citizens and discussed ideas for how to reinvigorate the city’s economy. Three main strengths were identified, education, heritage and tourism.

The late Professor Ron Lister pointed out that the Otago Peninsula had many unique attributes with its unique wildlife and coastal scenery, its natural features, historical heritage was unique.  So Dunedin Jaycee formed the Otago Peninsula Trust with the purpose of protecting and enhancing Otago Peninsula, allowing visitors to enjoy the peninsula wildlife, with a very strong emphasis on conservation. The Trust was unique at the time – New Zealand’s first private charitable conservation trust”.

Trust stalwart Laurie Stewart adds  “Dunedin’s economy has been boosted due to the foresight and dedication of the early trust volunteers, with thousands of hours of work, fundraising, and particularly from projects by various Dunedin Service Clubs”

We’d like to pay tribute to all the people involved over the 50 years of the Trust and acknowledge the work they’ve done ‘behind the scenes’. We have some great photos to share this year. For example; The Royal visits. A bulldozer in the albatross colony, Service clubs undertaking projects all around the Peninsula. And getting the Armstrong Disappearing Gun back in working order.

As well as creating amenities for residents and visitors the Trust has become a major economic contributor and enabler for Dunedin’s tourism industry. Today Otago Peninsula’s wildlife is estimated to be worth well over $100 million each year to the Dunedin economy. The Trust, with operations including the Royal Albatross Centre, Fort Taiaroa, Blue Penguins Pukekura joint venture, Glenfalloch and Tiki Tours is a major contributor and employer for the peninsula.

Some of the early stories to be told include:

  • How the Otago Peninsula Trust was created by Dunedin Jaycee and some prominent citizens due to concerns about Dunedin’s future and identifying tourism, education and heritage as a way to improve the city’s economy,
  • How the Dunedin Jaycee group raised $26,000 selling tens of thousands of mystery envelopes during an appeal to raise funds for the newly fledged Trust to purchase Glenfalloch, which was in danger of being subdivided and lost in the late 1960s,
  • How Trust volunteer work created a lovely public picnic area out of an estuary and dump at Maramoana Reserve, Portobello,
  • How the Trust worked with local farmers and landowners to allow public access, signage and fencing to local sights including Lovers Leap,
  • How the first yellow-eyed penguin tours were started by a local land owner, Mr. McGrouther and his two sons with the encouragement and practical support of the Otago Peninsula Trust.
  • How opening the Albatross Reserve for tours took five years of advocating work until the first public tour in 1972.
  • How the Otago Branch of the NZ Antique Arms Association restored the world’s only 1889 Armstrong Disappearing Gun to full working order and earned a rare International Heritage Award from the UK Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Plus of course, how much fun and fellowship Trust members have had over the 50 years.

The Trust has a year of events, offers and commemorations planned.

Robyn adds “During the year we also plan to commemorate milestones and pay tribute to work the Trust has achieved over its 50 years. As well as our weekly radio show on Otago Access Radio, our exhibition “Golden Peninsula Guardians, a Glenfalloch Gala Day and staff reunions we’ve also got special treats for anyone turning 50 in 2017. We’re going to be offering special deals across all the Trust attractions and partnerships including 50% off deals for Royal Albatross Centre Tours, Blue Penguins Pukekura, Fletcher House entry, Glenfalloch Green Bike Hire, Otago Peninsula Trust membership, deals when 50th birthday parties are booked at Glenfalloch Restaurant plus other pop-up specials during the year which will definitely be worth keeping an eye out for.”

Otago Peninsula Trust’s 50 stories in 50 weeks will be shared on Otago Peninsula Trust’s website, online media, via Otago Access Radio and podcast.