Just 18 of our members have been elected Life Members, to acknowledge outstanding service to WTMC. Their stories are fascinating as well as inspiring.
I’ve known Sue since joining the Club in 1992. Sue has been on the Committee for the entire time that I’ve been in the club occupying a range of positions from President to Secretary, Vice President and other roles. She is currently the Lodge coordination role on the Committee. The reason for nominating Sue is not just her 20 years or so that she has served on Committee but the fact that she has played a critical role in all aspects of the Club. She has instructed on bushcraft and leadership course, she has always helped out in just all new members nights and leading numerous trips over the years.
I personally recall meeting Sue on my first visit to the Club in 1992. The first person I meet at the door was Roger Bolam and the second was Sue who was leading a trip that weekend. I went on that trip and Sue was incredibly welcoming to the Club and contributed to me becoming an active member for many years.
Sue continues to greet newcomers to the club and continues to help out with all aspects of the Club.
Sue in many ways has been an unofficial life member – from the moment she was born she has been involved with the Club, as a youngster going up to the Lodge with her parents thru to today. Many of you may not know but her father Trevor Walsh was one of the first Life Members in the Club. He played a critical role in the building of the club lodge of Mt Ruapehu.
It’s my pleasure to support Sue in this nomination for WTMC Life membership.
- Wayne Stevens, April 2011
Since he joined in 1971 as one of a group of students from Tawa College, Ian Bunckenburg has been one of the club's most popular members.
Right from when he first joined he was a regular tramper, soon starting to lead trips of all grades and then progressing on to instruct at bushcraft courses, which he has done even in recent years. He has also been a skier with the club, including participating and leading Broken River trips.
During the 36 years since Ian joined the club, he has held almost every club role, from Assistant Chief Guide, Chief Guide, Vice President and President, to Ruapehu Maintenance Officer. One of the other ways that Ian assisted the club was in his approach to new people who came to club nights. He always sought them out, encouraged them to sign up for trips, answered their questions and generally made them feel welcome.
Probably one of the more significant areas of activity where Ian has been very active thoughout his club years is with Tararua hut maintenance. As a qualified tradesman he was able to utilise his skills on many occasions to repair or upgrade huts, like Mountain House, Walls Whare and Smiths Creek. However he was also as enthusiastic when carrying concrete blocks or bags of cement up to Mountain Hut. He even has the somewhat dubious distinction of having pulled down and burned huts he'd earlier helped to build or repair.
The only years when Ian was not visible around the club contributing in some way were when he was on his OE and when his children were very young. In this latter period he did however help with the production and mailing of the Newsletter and organising food for Ruapehu.
In between all of this tremendous contribution to the club he has been a very supportive father to his three daughters, Amanda, Catherine and Lizzy, in their sport and Girl Guide activities, and Marion to whom he was married in 1988. Somehow he has found time to seriously renovate two houses as well.
He has always managed to get out in the hills from time to time, and encourages his less active mates to follow along. Ian instigated many day trips through the years, and even today, they often involve red line chasing down some obscure creek or up a minor spur.
In more recent times in the early 2000's he performed the role of Ruapehu Lodge Maintenance Officer for approximately five years and has also contributed to the wider tramping community as a Search and Rescue Incident Controller, Search Manager and Advisor. He also helped to establish a youth group for SAR in Wellington.
Whilst anyone who has tramped with Ian regularly would understand why you would not trust him to carry a loaf of bread for you; they would also be in total agreement that you would trust him with your life - he is the ultimate Good Keen Man.
It is because of this enormous contribution to his tramping mates, the club and the wider tramping community that we congratulate Ian on achieving Life Membership of WTMC.
- Neil Woodrow, April 2007
Brian and Jan Goodwin both joined the Club in 1967. It was the start of a long association with Club activities and administration.
There are many voluntary hours of work that go into running a club such as ours. Some of the jobs are obvious, and it was easy to put a name and face to them. But there are also countless hours spent on jobs that are not seen. Brian was gear custodian for six years in the early seventies and Jan was treasurer for a year. But it was in the unseen jobs where Brian and Jan excelled. They took on the thankless task of posting out all of the Club newsletter, annual journals, etc for a period of over ten years. The task was far worse and more labour intensive in those days as the addresses were not on a computer.
Over the years they both led many weekend, Christmas and Broken River ski trips.
With his carpentry skills Brian was always welcomed on the Ruapehu working parties. Brian’s help on the new foundations for the 1983 Smith Creek Shelter were greatly appreciated.
As can be expected, while their three kids were growing up the time available to get away on club trips was greatly reduced. The fondness they felt for the hills, however did not diminish and was channeled into sharing it with family and friends on weekend camping and day trips It was also noticed that they still managed to sneak away on the occasional week trip. As the kids became older, more trips ere again done with the Club both as a family or on their own.
Brian took up mountain biking before it became popular and has been on many trips over the years. Even now, in his fifth decade he is doing the double around the lake in the Lake Taupo Challenge, something that mot many others from the Club have achieved. At ANZC weekend this year, he led a very successful long weekend biking trip from St Arnaud across the Molesworth Station and back to Picton.
Jan has for years been a regular on the Sunday day trips and has competed in the club’s multi-sport Trampers Challenge.
It is the commitment to the Club over the last 35 years that has earned both Brian and Jan the honour of becoming life members.
It was not until I started working on the Lodge in recent years that I became aware of the contribution that Kev has made to the Club over his many years as a member. Kev joined in 1959 and immediately took an interest in the Club lodge on Mt Ruapehu, spending many weekends helping out on working parties.
His involvement initially included undertaking general maintenance around the Lodge and then later, as the various extensions were added, he helped out in many support roles. Kev held the position of Lodge Maintenance Officer for several years, and even now he is still a regular on working parties.
Kev has also been a keen and active member of the Lodge subcommittee for several years. Back at home he willingly assisted in the organising of equipment and repairs for the Lodge. Kev has shown that he is really keen to help out in a number of aspects of the Club, being one of the Club’s regular drivers in the 'Orient Express' period when qualified bus drivers were required. He was always keen to assist and was often away driving clubbies to different road ends around the North Island (even if he wasn’t actually participating in the tramping trips for that weekend).
Kev was always there to lend a helping hand and continued to be a great source of advice for the Club leadership and regularly be part of the Wednesday night meetings.
In 2001 the Club recognised Kev’s efforts by awarding him life membership.
Allen’s seemingly tireless “retirement” has been underway for at last the last 10 years – but to the outsider Allen’s idea of retirement is akin to a bricklayer’s idea of Lebanon as a holiday destination.
Allen’s enthusiasm for the outdoors is infectious. It dates back to his teenage years of hard tramping and hunting when he first joined the club as a 15 year old. In his apprentice days there wasn’t much else to do but work hard and tramp hard. Allen soon made his name in taking on previously thought impossible weekend trips such as the Schormanns-Kaitoke traverse of the Tararuas. Even more startling is that 30 odd years later he’s still keen to take on such challenges, dragging others decades his junior along for the ride.
The late 60s saw an earnest-looking Allen join the WT&MC climbing expedition to the Andes. After cutting his teeth in the Southern Alps and as part of the Cliff Rescue Team he was ready for bigger mountains. By all accounts the expedition was a great success.
Squeezed around a packed programme of trips Allen also contributed greatly to the Club scene in the 60s and 70s through alpine instruction, Club Lodge work parties, and Club administration.
Search and Rescue also became a great outlet for alpine skills. In 1964 Allen was hanging around the Cook area with Bruce Jefferies, Ken McNatty and John Patchet when a search began for two Australians thought to be missing near the summit of Elie de Beaumont. Their services were offered to the local alpine guide-rescue team (a thinly disguised excuse to do some climbing). Allen and the rest of the rescue team climbed two-thirds of Elie before retreating in atrocious conditions. Soon after during a break in the weather a spotter plane confirmed that two people were on top of Elie. The rescue party headed up Elie the next day. They summitted but found no sign of the missing climbers. They began to retreat with one of their party suddenly plunged through the roof of a snowcave. The weakened climbers were then tortuously lowered and dragged off the mountain. That remains Allen’s only summit of Elie.
After 20 years of competing as second mate to Sue in top level sailing Allen returned to Club activities in the late 80s. His contribution to the Club since then has again been considerable. At the tangible level he has organised trips as diverse as the Round the Mountain Relay, the Clarence River bike/rafter expeditions, and contributed immensely to the revitalisation of mountaineering in the Club through the AIC courses. Allen must have led and organised more AIC's than anyone else in the club, spread over the last 40 years.
Allen’s knack for coming up with interesting trips reached a head when I felt “his “ trips were poaching punters from Club trips. As Chief guide I cunningly thought having Allen as Assistant Chief Guide in 1997 would be a solution. I underestimated Allen’s ability as he continued to cook up great personal trips while being one of the most proactive and helpful Assistant Chief Guides for the Club.
On the intangible level is it difficult to measure the value of what so many Club members have gained from Allen’s wealth of knowledge, friendship and deep love for the outdoors.
It was a great personal privilege for me to move Allen’s nomination for Life membership and it remains a pleasure to accompany him and Sue as they charge onwards through their “retirement”.
Figures alone mean little by themselves but I have no doubt that Dennis’ contribution to the Club by way of administration input over the 18 year period 1970 to 1987, during which he served 14 years on committee and held six different positions, is a record no other member has achieved. His interest and input, however, did not cease when re relinquished his President’s role in 1988, as he continued to attend committee meetings regularly as an observer, and to serve on the Ruapehu Lodge Administration sub-committee.
His input was always governed by a sincere interest in seeing decisions made and policies implemented that were in the Club’s long term interest, and those that now see the Club in the basically sound financial position it is in today.
Following his marriage to Frances in 1974 and the subsequent arrival of Micheal and Scott, his active involvement in field activity decreased. Over recent years, however, this has widened to embrace mountain biking, and more recently in this, his 31st year of membership – snowboarding.
As on the large number of Club members who was actively involved with Dennis over his long period of active participation in the Club’s tramping, trans-alpine, and skiing trips, I know from personal experience his ability and preparedness to play his part and contribute to the goal of a successful trip, in spite of whatever problems the trip encountered by way of route or weather.
As a life member of 10 years myself, it was certainly a pleasure and honour to welcome Dennis to the “club” within our club at this year’s AGM and to whish him well for a further long period of Club involvement, even if at a somewhat diminished level from that of the 70s and 80s.
“The club was my whole social life; I’ll always be a member”.
Ron Fayle is a Liverpool native who loved the environment that New Zealand offered up. He first joined Tongue and Meats on advice of a workmate, who knew about his regular walks into the hills above Crofton Downs, across paddocks that are now overtaken by Ngaio housing.
His first trip with the club was a working party to Smiths Creek, setting the pattern of regular work on WTMC’s Mountain House, Smiths Creek and Paua Huts, and of course the ‘Simple Mountain Hut’ the club built on Mt Ruapehu. Ron was always working hard, even though as he modestly says he was there as a labourer rather than a tradesperson.
When Dot Catchpole went off to get married, Ron stepped into the Secretary role on committee in 1960 – the start of over ten years on committee, in a wide range of jobs including Treasurer and President. This was a critical time for a young and growing club – it saw us acquire Paua Hut from the winding-up Paua Club, and the key extensions to Ruapehu Lodge that formed the asset we have today. Ron had the jobs in committee that meant he was closely involved with the implementation of these steps which set the foundation of our club today.
He was an avid skier, and a regular lodge leader up at the Lodge. He continued his work for the club right through to the 2000’s as Lodge Booking Officer.
Now in the mid 2010s, in his eighties, Ron remains keen of eye and still seen at Wednesday night club meetings. His numerous contributions that earned him his Life Member status were crucial to securing the assets and building the culture of our club today.
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering
For close on 50 years the name "Catchpole" has been closely associated with tramping, particularly with WT & MC, and even further afield. Over a good many of these years it has figured in the club officers list, from Gear Custodian to President.
On Thursday evening club nights at the Trades Hall you could always rely on a friendly welcome and ready smile from Dave, nothing was ever any trouble, and a helping hand was readily available. His naturally friendly affable nature is still very evident today.
Dave has always been, and still is, a reliable and dependable person to be with in the bush, or in the mountains. These qualities are of the utmost importance when away from the marked track, or in new country, as he often was. Early memories of Dave, to fellow trampers of 30 years or so ago like Graeme (Hori) Hall, Leon Sondej, Tom Myers and many others, is of a tall, some would say thin, form in a worn black Swandri with a 30/06 on his shoulder creeping through the dripping wet Tararua scrub after the elusive deer and using home made ammunition. Or hanging on to snow-grass in a horizontal position on the tops in a typical Nor'wester, or of pig shooting in the Orongorongo with the likes of Jack Lietch, Burnie Arnott, John Boyd and company, where everyone holstered a Second World War revolver in brand new condition.
These positive memories of the bush and mountain are NOT carried on to the ski slopes. To follow where he led, inevitably met with some disaster or another, not to him, but to one or other of the unfortunate victims he had convinced to follow him. We were only going up there, around that bluff, and back via the National Downhill??!! Hours later, with shaking knees and in a white-out, we would make it back to the hut with many mutterings of never again.
Let us sincerely hope we have many more years yet to enjoy the knowledge and companionship of our worthy life member.
In July 1964 a young apprentice plumber named Pete Goodwin joined the club. Pete was quickly into FE trips and his no nonsense "lets get going" approach won the admiration of his older colleagues. After long hard days in wet weather, it was always Pete who would volunteer to cook tea while every one else took to their pits.
In 1968 Pete was the youngest member of the Club's 7 person Andean Expedition which successfully climbed over 18 peaks, some of which were previously unclimbed.
Whether it has been tramping, climbing or skiing, Pete has been a good mate to many club members.
He has always been a tireless worker for the club. In earlier years it was instructing on bushcrafts and AIC's or using his climbing knowledge on working parties. He was a Committee member for a number of years and in 1973 was Vice President.
In 1977 he began his reign as the longest serving gear custodian the club has had. He continued in this role until 1997 when, after 20 years, he stepped down. Not content with this, he has also organised the food for Ruapehu Hut for so long no one can remember exactly when he started. Neither of these jobs has put Pete into the limelight but he has carried them out with a tireless efficiency - and the odd expletive.
It was fitting that the club granted him life membership in 1990.
Alan Dyer has involved himself with all aspects of club activities, including winter skiing. He has tramped extensively in the Wellington Region.
His training as an apprentice joiner in 1959 was welcomed and utilised to the full when the Ruapehu Hut ‘stage one’ was being finished, and ‘stage two’ extension from 1961 – 1963 was underway. Alan spent many weekends on club, and smaller specialised working parties.
By 1977 an increasing number of member families with young children were using the hut, so the decision was made to add a new bunkroom wing, and install toilets and showers. Alan was made Clerk of Works, and for the next 10 years he dedicated most of his spare time to providing a comfortable and functional hut for members. He also added his own flair for design and décor, to produce a facility of which we can be truly proud.
In recent years his joinery business has enlarged, and yet his output as Hut Maintenance Officer has not diminished, with many Christmas and long weekend holiday breaks being spent away from his wife Kaye, and family.
Alan and Kaye were granted free lifetime use of the Ruapehu Hut in 1980, and in 1986 Alan was appointed a Life Member as recognition of his outstanding contribution to the club.
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering –
Nick Jennings has served as an officer of the club in many capacities. His wide experience with outside organisations has been of benefit to the club in many ways, encouraging greater safety, good judgment, and – above all – the learning of skills to make the most of the bush and mountains.
His contribution to the clubs strength has been to set members on the track to becoming competent trampers by his enthusiastic organisation of bushcraft, and teaching instructor courses. Nick’s leadership of Christmas trips for the younger, newer members has enabled them to participate in these highlights of tramping activities.
Nick is the only member to have been President five times, and his contribution to the club was recognised in 1982 with his appointment as a Life Member.
Karin (nee Wilson) Boswell devoted much of her time in early years with the club to work on various committees, and in 1955 when the club was to begin construction the Mt Ruapehu hut, Karin organised a nationwide raffle to obtain capital for building materials.
Married to Duncan Boswell (President 1954-6) in 1955, her interests were curtailed while raising a family of four children. Since 1963, she has organised an annual family ski week.
In the 1970’s she ran many WT&MC annual picnics emphasising children’s events.
In 1981, 82 and 85 Karin was involved with the Disabled Skiers weeks at Ruapehu Hut.
In 1980, she was approached by the Ski Patrol Association to cater their training weekends. In 1985, in recognition of these continuing services she was appointed an Honorary Member.
Karin returned to active tramping in 1982, arranging monthly Sunday trips for family groups and older members.
In 1987 Karin began researching the club’s history and complied a photographic record of officers of the Club since 1947. Club archives will be lodged at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Karin’s contributions to club activities over the past 37 years were recognised in 1988 with her appointment as the eighth Life Member.
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering:
From the year Brian Hunt joined WT&MC in 1958 it can be truly claimed that he has been wholeheartedly involved in every aspect of the clubs activities, be it tramping, skiing, social or administration. He has been a valuable asset and inspiration to all who have worked with him over the span of nearly 30 years.
His great organising talent has benefited hundreds of members participating in his well-run skiing and tramping trips.
If he saw a lack in the club’s operation, he would form a sub-committee, co-opt people onto it, and pursue the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.
The club was approached in 1979 by the Disabled Skiers Association and it was Brian who initiated the annual trips to our hut at Ruapehu, acting as leader and instructor until other suitable candidates came forward to continue the work. The disabled groups have also benefited from wheelchair picnics through the Orongorongos and to Donnelly Flat, organised by Brian.
His service as a Ski Patroller extended not just to ‘on the field’ first aid, but to membership of the executive. In 1985 he was the co-ordinator for the beginning of the season weekend training programme for Ruapehu patrollers from the whole of the North Island.
Brian constantly sought to improve his own skills and knowledge so that they could be used for the benefit of all.
His devotion to the wellbeing of the WT&MC was acknowledged in 1987 with appointment as a Life Member.
Bill Rice is a Foundation Member of the WT&MC, having come from the Ruc Sac Club in 1947 at the time of the merger. His early tramping began with the Scouts, and he became a Rover Scout with the Tapu-te-ranga Rover crew of Island Bay.
Bill gained wide experience in the club’s early years on “Fitness Essential” trips, South Island climbing and tramping trips, and skiing and climbing on Egmont and Ruapehu. In turn he became a valued instructor for the club’s Introductory Courses for new and intending members. He instructed on many Alpine Instruction courses at Ruapehu.
His skiing ability was such that he was appointed a Local Technical Representative by the NZ Ski Association, and from 1957 he was a qualified examiner for the graduated ski tests. He also instructed on club ski instruction weekends.
When the Ruapehu hut was due for extension, Bill was appointed Clerk of Works for the whole ‘stage two’ operation from 1961 to 1963.
Bill held many official positions in the club, and in 1968, when he was President for the third time, the club’s 21st celebrations under his guiding influence really saw our club “come of age” with the high standard of displays and publicity for the WT&MC.
His many years of service were acknowledged in 1972 with his appointment as a Life Member.
Trevor Walsh is a Foundation Member of the WT&MC having been a member of the Outdoor Club at the time of the merger in 1947.
Trevor’s wide experience of tramping, covering all areas of the Tararuas, Orongorongos, many climbing trips to the South Island, Egmont and Ruapehu, plus skiing, were to establish him firmly as either a participant or an organiser.
During the early years of the club he held many offices which require drive and initiative. With the death of the Ruapehu Hut Planning Officer – Bob Williams – in 1955, Trevor took over the role of Clerk of Works in 1956 to build the club’s most ambitious project – the Ruapehu Hut. His drive and enthusiasm was the mainstay of this difficult building programme, and he saw it through from inception to the hut opening in June 1960. He also combined the duties of President from mid 1958 to March 1962.
In 1965 his years of dedication to the club’s establishment and growth were honoured with Life Membership.
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering:
Graeme Hall (nickname “Hori”) is a Foundation Member of the WT&MC, having come from the Ruc Sac Club in 1947 at the age of 17. His early tramping began with the scouts, and he became a Rover Scout in the same crew as his friend, Bill Rice.
He became an enthusiastic participant on the more difficult climbing and tramping trips and, with experience, proved himself to be an able and popular leader. At 24 he became the Chief guide for a period of four years.
Graeme’s qualification as an accountant was put to good use from 1958 – 1964 as the club’s Treasurer, and for many more years he audited the club accounts.
His long active association with the club was acknowledged in 1965 with his appointment as Life Member.
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering:
Ethyl Carter is a Foundation Member of the WT&MC having come from the Outdoor Club in 1947. Ethyl’s love of the outdoors began much earlier because of her association with the NZ Girl Guides. This association continued into adulthood when she became a Leader and Foundation Member of the 1st Lower Hutt Ranger Company. She was instrumental in starting the first Lone Brownie Pack in the world.
On joining the WT&MC her secretarial skills were soon recognised, and she dedicated herself enthusiastically not only to these duties, but to all other aspects of the club.
Her tramping and mountaineering has extended from Milford Track and the Greenstone Valley, to climbs of Tapuaenuku and Egmont, the Ureweras, and all Wellington hills. She has also helped to build most of the Club huts.
In 1951 the club was of the unanimous opinion that Ethyl had contributed so much to the success and well being of the WT&MC that it was necessary to record their thanks and confer on her Life Membership.
Forty years on, Ethyl, now in her seventies, was still actively engaged in tramping on club Sunday trips, and organising functions for the Veteran Membership.