Mem­o­ries of disas­ter make way for progress

Central Otago Mirror - - OPINION -

Tourism, the life-blood of Queen­stown, had its hum­ble be­gin­nings in the cen­tral North Is­land dis­trict of Tarawera. Sit­u­ated 20km south of that other tourist Mecca, Ro­torua, the area is dom­i­nated by na­tive bush, pris­tine lakes and vol­canic moun­tains. In 1870, Prince Al­fred, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh, trav­elled to the area ac­com­pa­nied by 200 of the world’s press to view one of the nat­u­ral won­ders of the world, the renowned Pink and White Ter­races. The press duly re­ported back to their read­er­ship in Bri­tain and Europe and the wealthy and ad­ven­tur­ous made plans to visit the other side of the world. Overnight, New Zealand had the mak­ings of a thriv­ing tourism in­dus­try that even­tu­ally spread to all parts of the coun­try. Last Mon­day was the 127th an­niver­sary of the erup­tion of Mt Tarawera, which de­stroyed the Ter­races and threat­ened to end our short-lived sor­tie into tourism. More than 130 peo­ple lost their lives in the erup­tion and hun­dreds more were dis­placed from their homes. My grand­par­ents were liv­ing there as teenagers at the time and passed down their rec­ol­lec­tions of that fate­ful night to their descen­dants. They re­lo­cated to nearby Ro­torua, to where the fo­cus of our tourism in­dus­try also shifted. I sus­pect that a sim­i­lar out­come will take place in Christchurch. Peo­ple’s rec­ol­lec­tions of the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake will be pre­served for pos­ter­ity and the city will even­tu­ally re­turn to, and even sur­pass, its for­mer glory. And all of this is tes­ti­mony to the fact that hu­man for­ti­tude will al­ways pre­vail over the forces of na­ture. ◗ Peter Waaka is a busi­ness coach, en­ter­tainer and long-time Queen­stown lo­cal who runs ter­tiary cour­ses through his busi­ness school, the School of Thought.

Nat­u­ral won­der: The Pink and White Ter­races, birth place of New Zealand’s tourism in­dus­try, were de­stroyed 127 years ago last week.

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