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.

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