Great Barrier Island has had some good news lately.
Along with the recent announcement of the opening of the Aotea Conservation Park, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has also revealed that the Nature Heritage Fund would put "a significant amount of funding" towards a consortium that includes the Auckland Council and Great Barrier Island Local Board in a bid to purchase Glenfern Sanctuary. The Great Barrier Island community have been waiting nervously for almost 2 years for an outcome to the Glenfern predicament.... the recent announcement of this news couldn't have been more timely or welcome.
Legendary Kiwi, Tony Bouzaid was a quiet man... He spoke quietly, worked quietly and succeeded quietly. His achievements though, shout his name across & around the world!
He won the World Half Ton Cup twice, once in 1978 in England, again the following year in the Netherlands and in 1979 he was New Zealands Yachtsman of the Year.
His professional and business accomplishments were equally outstanding and when he and his wife Mal could have been contemplating the 'easy life' of retirement, they instead purchased FitzRoy House on Great Barrier Island and the 'work' began again. As Councillor Mike Lee says in his tribute to Tony... "When Tony and Mal bought Fitzroy House in 1992 and began restoring both the buildings and its extensive estate – they set out on a journey which would carry them to the forefront of private sector conservation achievement."
Glenfern Sanctuary was born and in the following 19 years before his death, Tony pursued his dream of providing a safe haven for all Great Barrier Island native species, with the same passion and dedication he applied to his earlier pursuits.
Tony passed away unexpectedly in 2011 and not long thereafter, the beautifully transformed Glenfern Sanctuary waited nervously under the shadow of it's own uncertain future. The real-estate agents appeared, the hugely popular guided walks ceased and the end result of Tony Bouzaids dreams and hard work lay vulnerable and available to the highest bidder.
Steadfast in their commitment to the ongoing realisation of Tony's vision, marine biologist, Dr. Emma Cronin and her husband Scott Sambell are nearly as 'quiet' in their manner as their predecessor and definitely as driven. Along with their lovely 7 year old daughter Pippa, these 'champions of the cause' have spent the last 8 years of their 10 year marriage totally absorbed in the running of Glenfern Sanctuary. It's fair to say - the last 2 years have been more than frustrating for Scott and Emma.
Maggie Barrys' announcement must seem unbelievable and the feeling of relief is palpable.
It's almost a case of 'back to the future' for Scott. No sitting around celebrating for this fella! There's work to be done, improvements to be made and hardly enough hours in the day. As Scott reminds me, "We have a world class tourism facility here. It makes sense to enhance the visitor experience. We want our day visitors to feel free and comfortable to rest at the sanctuary after their walk, have the opportunity to relax with a coffee and wander through the gardens enjoying our amazing bird life.
How about a mobile phone app that supplies the self guided walker with an interactive commentary?"
Yep - That's the Scott we know.
There is a definite atmosphere of relief at Glenfern today. Emmas' presentation talk is delivered with pride & passion and we all feel her optimism for the sanctuary's ongoing success.
The ink has hardly dried on the news release and Emma is quick to let me know "we've had 40 people through the Sanctuary today!" There's a new message on the answer phone too - and it's all good news! "We're open for business - self guided & guided sanctuary walks, unique holiday accommodation options available. Come on in. You're Welcome."
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