Birds of a feather flock together: Forest & Bird celebrated

In late April 2023, Paekākāriki buzzed with excitement and activities commemorating 100 years of Forest & Bird | Te Reo of Te Taiao. Captain Val Sanderson, a pioneering conservationist, featured prominently in the celebrations.

Forest & Bird's centenary birthday cake is being cut.
F&B centenary birthday cake. Photo: Bob Zuur

In brilliant autumn weather, Paekākāriki celebrated 100 years of Forest & Bird and the life of its founder, former Paekākāriki resident Captain Val Sanderson.  

These types of village events work so well due to our fantastic volunteer base.  

A volunteer writing Forest & Bird 100 years celebration on St Peter's Hall noticeboard
Forest & Bird centenary April 2023. Photo: Bob Zuur

There are the volunteers from Ngā Uruora, who undertake forest restoration work on the escarpment and more recently the Waikākāriki Wetland, where the newly named Sanderson Way runs. It was Ngā Uruora’s vision that enabled the development of this beautiful walkway that has now become the favourite walk of many Paekākāriki-ites.  

Sanderson whānau members. Photo: Bob Zuur

The event would not have been possible without the assistance over the whole weekend of Francis Mills, volunteer custodian of St Peter’s Hall. Local photographer Bob Zuur donated his time in photo documenting the event in his usual professional manner. 

Nicola Toki, CE of Forest and Bird, kicked off the celebrations and cut the cake. 

Nicola Toki, CE of Forest & Bird. Photo: Bob Zuur

Highlights included the unveiling of the Sanderson memorial sign on Sanderson way followed by the planting of six totara to mark the event. We appreciated the blessing given by Dr Taku Parai, representing Ngāti Toa and Karl Farrell, from Ngāti Haumia. 

Dr Taku Parai (left) and Karl Farrell (right). Photo: Bob Zuur

Then there were those who set up the displays in the hall, looked after the exhibits, and organised the morning tea. Particular thanks go to Maree White (Predator Free Paekākāriki), Dave Johnson (Chair, Paekākāriki Station Museum Trust), Paul Callister (Ngā Uruora), Amelia Geary (Forest and Bird), Prue Tosswill, Julie Warren, Robina La Hood, Lynne Ciochetto and Peter Kentish (Ngā Uruora). Pene Burton Bell, Chair of Kāpiti-Mana Branch Forest & Bird, played a major role in bringing the event together and making it a success. Pene’s talk highlighted the local branch’s success in restoring sites from Pāuatahanui inlet to Waikanae estuary and many places in between, enhancing local beauty and recreational spaces.  

The event was made very special by eleven members of the Sanderson family attending. 

At the ceremony in the hall, Justin Jordan, a grandson donated some possessions of Captain Sanderson, including the typewriter on which he wrote his many letters to politicians and other key figures during his various campaigns. 

Captain Val Sanderson’s typewriter. Photo: Bob Zuur

We hope to borrow these for a display in the Paekākāriki Station Museum. The enlarged photo of the Sanderson cottage at 15 Pingau Street taken in the 1940s proved a drawcard. 

The event reinforced the key role Captain Sanderson played in many conservation campaigns, as well as his close ties to the village.   

Sanderson whānau members. Photo: Bob Zuur

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