Many in­spired by kiwi con­ser­va­tion­ist


Coro­man­del con­ser­va­tion­ist Arthur Hinds has died in a treefelling ac­ci­dent.

Hinds, 70, led one of the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful kiwi pro­tec­tion projects and nu­mer­ous con­ser­va­tion ef­forts across the Waikato and Coro­man­del.

He was hit by a fall­ing tree while work­ing with a chain­saw on a prop­erty in When­u­akite, north of Tairua, Waikato po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Dave Raf­fan said on Mon­day.

The death has been re­ferred to the coro­ner.

Fam­ily mem­bers – who found Hinds on Satur­day evening – have asked for pri­vacy and will hold a pri­vate ser­vice.

But many in the com­mu­nity were will­ing to speak about the prag­matic dairy farmer and kiwi con­ser­va­tion­ist.

Emily O’Don­nell, a friend of Hinds, said she was heart­bro­ken to hear of his death.

If he wasn’t out set­ting traplines, the Coro­man­del­raised man of ac­tion could be found on the farm, she said.

He helped O’Don­nell put up a fence­line on her prop­erty, but it was only typ­i­cal of a fam­ily al­ways will­ing to roll up their sleeves.

He was some­one who never stopped seek­ing knowl­edge, O’Don­nell said.

‘‘It be­gan when he was a direc­tor on the New Zealand Dairy Board, and as his knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ences changed, so too did his de­sire to get in­volved.’’

Dis­cov­er­ing kiwi on his When­u­akite dairy farm fu­elled the con­ser­va­tion­ist in Hinds and led him to chair the When­u­akite Kiwi Care Group, formed in 2000.

The group cares for 4000 hectares of re­gen­er­at­ing for­est, both pub­lic and pri­vate land, and has elim­i­nated more than a thou­sand stoats, 250 feral cats, 130 weasels and 11 fer­rets from the area with nearly 500 traps.

Start­ing with an es­ti­mated 29 ki­wis in 2009, a 2010 sur­vey found 98 kiwi.

A strong ad­vo­cate for 1080, Hinds said in 2012 that three air­drops of the poi­son had pro­duced ‘‘stun­ning re­sults’’, with some 150 kereru graz­ing in his pad­docks.

‘‘The only detri­men­tal ef­fect is we don’t get a lot of fruit now be­cause the kereru come in and strip our fruit trees. Even our or­na­men­tal trees are stripped back; it’s a nice prob­lem to have,’’ he said at the time.

But this no-non­sense ap­proach to con­ser­va­tion – which had many dogs loose in the kiwi care zone shot – drew its de­trac­tors.

An anti-1080 pro­tester punched the then-chair­man of the Waikato Con­ser­va­tion Board three times out­side a com­mu­nity meet­ing in 2011.

Out­side of When­u­akite, his con­ser­va­tion cre­den­tials spanned the Coro­man­del Catch- ment Com­mit­tee, Maun­gatau­tari and the Lake Taupo Pro­tec­tion Trust.

Hinds was also a for­mer Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor for the Coro­man­del.

Thames Coro­man­del District Coun­cil Mayor San­dra Goudie said Hinds epit­o­mised the peo­ple of the Coro­man­del.

He was not only typ­i­cal of the re­gion’s strong en­vi­ron­men­tal streak, but a lead­ing light in kiwi con­ser­va­tion around the coun­try.

Hinds was dili­gent and con­sid­ered in the many ap­pointed roles in which she worked with him. It was that nu­anced view, an un­der­stand­ing of the bal­ance at play in the en­vi­ron­ment in which he lived and worked, that Goudie ap­pre­ci­ated most.

‘‘The sub­stan­tial gains that have been made in the Coro­man­del are made be­cause of peo­ple like Arthur.’’

For­mer Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor Peter Buck­ley first met Hinds when the two were in­volved in the now-de­funct New Zealand Dairy Group.

Buck­ley, him­self a con­ser­va­tion-bent dairy farmer, said many were in­spired by and em­u­lated Hinds.

He was the first port of call for many in the com­mu­nity, whether it was Coro­man­del­spe­cific, farm­ing, or con­ser­va­tion mat­ters.

‘‘He wouldn’t turn many peo­ple down when it came to jobs or goals that peo­ple had out there.’’

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil chair Alan Liv­ingston said Hinds’ work on be­half of the com­mu­nity was greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. ‘‘He showed strong com­mu­nity lead­er­ship and worked very hard to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Notable Coro­man­del kiwi con­ser­va­tion­ist Arthur Hinds.

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