Valuable legacy left behind
Historian, environmentalist and character, Olive Baldwin etched herself into local history during more than 50 years living in Porirua and the Kapiti Coast.
The Paraparaumu Beach resident died on September 1, aged 84, surrounded by family at Wellington Hospital.
Hundreds attended her funeral on September 5 at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Paraparaumu.
Mrs Baldwin is survived by three children, Richard, 57, David, 55, and Elizabeth, 50. Another son, Andrew, was killed when the helicopter he was flying crashed in the Tararua Ranges in 1998. She has 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mrs Baldwin had been unwell for about six months, supported at home by friends and family until her admission to hospital the week before last.
David said it had been a special time, with the family able to enjoy time with her and say good-bye.
Originally from Ngahere on the South Island’s West Coast, Mrs Baldwin grew up in a series of Central Otago towns, where her father worked on the railways after the war.
She met Stanley Baldwin in Taieri, where he was an officer in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and she was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, said Richard.
The couple married in 1953, Mr Baldwin aged 55, and Mrs Baldwin, 26. They moved to Wellington for about two years, then north to Paremata, where they spent just under 30 years, raising their children.
David said Paremata was a fishing village then and his mother loved the place.
“Mum was great mates with Sam Hunt, round at Bottle Creek . . . there were a lot of creative people in that little fishing village then and they all fed off each other, so it was just heaven to be brought up in a place like that.”
The couple left their large Paremata section to move up the Coast in about 1984. Mr Baldwin died about 20 years ago.
Mrs Baldwin loved the outdoors and was a keen tramper and mountaineer, scaling most of New Zealand’s main summits. She also wrote a number of books and articles.
David said his mother left school in Form 2 but later achieved university entrance level via correspondence study. She saw herself as ‘‘a bit of a political activist’’, he said.
‘‘And the thing is, our country needs those sort of people. She mightn’t have it right every time but at least she’s got an opinion.’’
She accompanied David on annual deer hunting trips in the Southern Alps by helicopter, taking the role of camp cook.
‘‘We’d go every year as a routine and she just lived for it.’’
He did not like to admit it, but his mother, a former archer, was a better shot than him, he said. However she preferred ‘‘fossicking’’ in the bush to hunting.
The pair made their last trip into the Southern Alps by helicopter two years ago.
Mrs Baldwin had also shared her love of the outdoors with Andrew, who used to fly her into the Tararuas by helicopter until his fatal crash, aged 37.
David’s favourite memory of his mother was when she took him tramping up Mt Hector, in the Tararuas above Kapiti, aged 12.
‘‘Just holding her hand climbing over Fields Ridge and for the first time I saw that main range, Mt Maungahuka, and man I’ve never forgotten it, and I’ve been hooked on mountains since.’’
His son Mark, 24, had started going with them from the age of 8, and she imparted her bush knowledge to him, said David.
Mrs Baldwin compiled the book The Celebration History of the Kapiti District for the Kapiti Borough Council in 1988, which was a ‘‘significant contribution’’ to the district, he said.
She was a founding member of Kapiti Island Watching Interest, KIWI, and at one time was given a trespass notice after investigating alleged paua poaching, he said.
She also led unsuccessful opposition to a nature lodge on Kapiti Island.
Richard said his mother had compiled a huge amount of research, which had been archived.
Final journey: Family carry Olive Baldwin’s coffin out of St Paul’s in Paraparaumu last Wednesday.