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Breaking Ground at the Brook Sanctuary

Chris Bowater and family
Chris Bowater, along with his two children Jacob and Laura, were very proud to attend last weekend's Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Ground Breaking Ceremony as representatives of Bowater Honda and the wider Bowater Motor Group.

Bowater Motor Group joins in the celebrations of a key project milestone.

Last Saturday was a very important day for the Brook Sanctuary, the local wildlife and the local humans of the region.

It was a day many thought would be a long way off for a project many had dismissed as being a flight of fancy and way too hard to actually achieve. Imagine convincing many layers of local and national goverance, as well as different funding bodies, locals and various conservation groups of the value of creating a predator free inland island to protect our vulnerable native wildlife from the rigors of modern life and the plethora of introduced pests.

Due to the very hard work by the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust team Saturday the 27th of September marked a very important occassion. It was a celebration of the power of great intentions, loads of hard work, and a passionate and dedicated group of individuals determined to see this important project through to eventuality. A celebration for those that have the power to visualise a better world, and setting to rights some of the damage caused by past actions, and then setting about actually achieving it!

The ceremony was a key milestone for the project. The chance to finally break ground and sink in the very first fencepost as the construction of the 14km long predator proof fence officially got underway.


Several hundred people attented the celebration at the head of the Brook Valley at the visitors centre. A collection of local dignitaries, representitives from business supporters as well as Sanctuary volunteers, supporters and a wide range of the locals from across the region.

The grounds were packed, the sun shone down on us all, and the ceremony began with an awe inspiring call from traditional Maori instrumentalist, and long time supporter of the Sanctaury project,  Richard Nunns (below).

Richard Nunns

The waiata from Richard was poignant and echoed throughout the valley, a beautiful ancient sound ringing through a forest finding it's feet again, and about to be reunited with the ways of old, a time when there were no predators on these lands, a time where the birds and reptiles had a great sense of peace. 

A blessing was then held by local kaumatua, Archdeacon Andy Joseph to get the ceremony underway. He spoke of the land, and of the children, and how important it was that we all collectively took responsibility for the generations of the future, pointing to the gathering of children at the front of the crowd, "their children's children".

From left, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne, Trust Chair Dave Butler, and Sanctuary General Manager Hudson Dodd listen to the speech from Archdeacon Andy Joseph.

Current incumbant Minister for the Enviroment, and freshly reelected MP for Nelson, the Hon Dr Nick Smith spoke at length about the processes behind the Sanctuary Trust achieving their goals, and what the future holds with the environmental benefits of the success of the Sanctuary Project.

He stated the importance that this project held not only for the local community, but also for the country as a whole, as this kind of special place not only took steps towards preserving our vulnerable native species, but it also took steps to reaffirming our clean, green brand as a country.

Nick Smith
Local Nelson MP and Conservation Minister the Hon Dr Nick Smith addressing the crowd.

Nick Smith said in his speech that Nelson was a community that believed in its commitment to environmentalism and the Brook Sanctuary fence project represented part of what it meant to be a Nelsonian. To keep projects like this alive though it needed "visionaries" with a generational view, as these projects were about the very long term.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the project had the potential to inspire not just a region but the whole country.

"We can show New Zealand what can happen when you make a commitment to biodiversity."

Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust Chair Dave Butler.

The hundreds that had gathered on the lawn of the visitor centre heard a very passionate and emotional speech from the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust's Chair, Dave Butler, someone who has been a key part of the project from the onset 13 years ago. 

The projections are that it will take 15 months to build the fence, with what Dave calls the "dancing" diggers and bulldozers performing feats of engineering marvel on some of the very steep sections of the fenceline. Once this has been completed the now enclosed pests would be eradicated next winter. The sanctuary would remain open during construction with rolling closures of areas where needed.

"We are looking forward to something exciting which is not a vision anymore but a reality."

He paid special mention to those involved that have sinced passed away and not had the chance to witness this historic milestone.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese and Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne shovel dirt into place to hold the first fencepost in place as supported by local MP and Minister for the Environment the Hon Dr Nick Smith.


A key part of the celebration was the actual placing of the very first fencepost, the first of 7,500 making up the 14km perimeter of the Sanctuary's 700ha fenced sanctuary.

Once the ceremonial aspect was doen, and all necessary photo obligations done, it was the chance of some very lucky local children to get in on the action. They had the honour of also being a big part of the important end of the morning, the actual placing of the first fencepost - something they are sure to remember for the rest of their lives, and something they can revisit with their own children in the future.


With the first post now in the ground the really hard work is now about to begin. The money has been raised to pay for the fence construction but this is only a part of the project. The ongoing track maintainence and weed control still needs to happen as well as the upkeep of the existing facilities.

The Bowater Motor Group is so proud to have had a hand to play in this journey, and will continue to be avid supporters for generations to come. The connection to the project has been formed, and generationally the Bowater Family are behind the project boots and all!

Bowater Honda CEO Chris Bowater with his son Jacob in the Brook Sanctuary Visitor Centre after the Ground Breaking Ceremony.

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