Mataketake Hut opening pays tribute to conservationist
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionA new hut, built on the Mataketake Range near Haast in South Westland honours the late Dr Andrew (Andy) Dennis, a well-known conservationist, tramper and writer who left a bequest for the hut to be constructed.
Date: 18 February 2021
Andy, who died in 2016, was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to the community, conservation campaigns to protect West Coast forests in South Westland from logging, and work to establish the Te Wāhipounamu South Westland World Heritage Area where the hut has been built.
The hut build was led by Rob Brown on behalf of the Andy Dennis Estate, and the Backcountry Trust will own the hut and work with DOC on its maintenance.
The eight-bunk hut was opened on Saturday with a gathering of Andy’s friends and family, DOC staff, and representatives of Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio.
Rob Brown, who was a close friend of Andy, says the idea of building the hut was to link in with the re-opening of two historic tracks to the Mataketake tops that had become overgrown. The building of the hut provides a circuit with the historic Haast-Paringa Cattle Track to give a more complete mountains to the sea experience in South Westland.
“The range is gentle country, with rolling easy tops, dotted with tarns and lakes and is the sort of tramping tops that many people will have the skills to enjoy.”
Mike Slater, DOC Deputy Director General, says that Andy was a passionate conservationist who loved the outdoors. “Andy was a very hospitable and likeable character, and would approve of having a hut in a spot like the Mataketake’s to help people enjoy the majesty of South Westland – it is a fitting tribute.
“He knew the West Coast very well, and his knowledge and academic background was a great help when we started to write the West Coast Conservation Management Strategy, which contains descriptions of West Coast places and the conservation values they hold, and continues to be a great resource.”
The hut contains a selection of Andy’s books, including his South Westland World Heritage Highway Guide and three handbooks for Abel Tasman, Arthur's Pass and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Parks, and 'The Paparoa Guide', published in 1981.
Access to the hut is via a new track which has been cut by a combination of volunteers, DOC staff and Jobs for Nature workers.
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