GIL­LIAN WHITE

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS -

I had the plea­sure of speak­ing with Blair Wal­ter this week who, as well as work­ing full time and look­ing af­ter his new-born baby, man­ages to find the time to vol­un­teer with the Mok­ihi Trust where he was a found­ing trus­tee.

Born and bred in the Waikato, Blair moved to Cen­tral in 1996 to start Fel­ton Road win­ery, where he con­tin­ues to work as wine­maker and gen­eral man­ager.

He also en­joys spend­ing time with his part­ner Sarah and their very young baby, gardening, cook­ing, wine, sail­ing, fly­ing and restor­ing his Messer­schmitt bub­ble car.

So how does he find the time and en­ergy to vol­un­teer?

‘‘I have been in­volved with the Mok­ihi Trust since the be­gin­ning.

‘‘It’s a pas­sion of mine so I find the time!

‘‘It’s been re­ported that Cen­tral Otago has the most mod­i­fied land­scape of any re­gion of New Zealand.

‘‘We des­per­ately need to re­store pock­ets of na­tive veg­e­ta­tion and ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity on the im­por­tance of rein­tro­duc­ing the fab­u­lous range of na­tive trees and shrubs that used to thrive in our unique en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘This in turn will pro­vide habi­tat for the re­turn of na­tive birds, lizards and in­sects that are hugely threat­ened.

‘‘Mok­ihi was es­tab­lished in early 2016 af­ter a pe­riod of en­cour­age­ment and as­sis­tance from Te Kakano in Wanaka.

‘‘I was in­volved right from the be­gin­ning. We held com­mu­nity meet­ings to band to­gether like­minded en­thu­si­as­tic in­di­vid­u­als to set up a na­tive plant restora­tion trust for Cromwell.’’

Like so many vol­un­teers I meet, Blair has clearly found his pas­sion and is com­mit­ted to the

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