In early December 2019, WTMC life member Nick Jennings and former WTMC member Fraser Walls passed away.
Nick died on 5 December 2019 in Palmerston North from colon cancer, aged 89. Fraser died on 6 December 2019 from a heart attack, aged 78.
20 FEBRUARY 1941 – 6 DECEMBER 2019
One of Fraser’s four daughters, Anna, said this about her father, who was WTMC’s Chief Guide in 1966 :
Today my father hung up his tools forever. He was a remarkable man with academic and artistic talents that he used in creative ways. He taught me to have the confidence to design and create what I wanted. He was always busy innovating and it is fitting that he was busy being active at the time he passed out, dying peacefully soon afterwards. He was also deeply principled, and valued people not for their background but for themselves. I feel very lucky to be his daughter. He was a maths/physics/science/photography teacher for many years and I know he stretched many more minds than just my own. A celebration of his life will be planned probably later January.
25 MARCH 1930 – 5 DECEMBER 2019
A few memories of Nick, written by WTMC member Norm Whiteside:
Nick Jennings has served as an officer of WTMC in many capacities. His wide experience with outside organisations has been of benefit to the club in many ways, encouraging greater safety, good judgement, and – above all – the learning skills to make the most of the bush and mountains.
His contribution to the club’s strength was to set members on the track to becoming competent trampers through his enthusiastic organisation of Bush Craft and teaching instructor courses. Nick’s leadership of Christmas trips for the younger newer members has enabled them to participate in the 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.
Bruce Jefferies discusses Nick’s life:
Sure, I’d be happy to say something was my reply to Norm and Jacqui Whiteside, when asked if I would scribe a few words about Nick Jennings’ passing – that was the easy part. The challenge is to think of something meaningful to say!
It’s an even bigger challenge – at least we found it so – when you’re saying a final farewell to a fellow mountaineer/tramper, colleague, and, more importantly, a person who probably helped shape Marg’s and my life.
Various Facebook, text messages and emails all commented on Nick’s attributes – a few included:
- Nick was a very kind man especially to us younger members of the tramping club
- He always impressed with his integrity, honesty and capability – a man you couldn’t help but respect
- He was a gentleman, respected public servant, valued by all
- Nick has been a great and positive influencer on many of us who later worked in the National Park and Protected Area activities
- As a teenager growing up running around the Tararuas, I found Nick to be a legend and mentor
Our recollections of Nick go back into the early 1960s – his forays into the dark depths of the local hills, and longer trips to the South Island. BJ reminisced that as a teenager I don’t remember passing him on the Baker track during the trampers’ marathon – but I might have!
I’m sure, helped by Nick’s influence, BJ joined the National Park system in 1966 and was based in Tongariro NP at Whakapapa. That was probably about the time that we lost regular contact with Nick apart from a few dinners at the club hut.
Later when I was involved as an advisor during the setting up phase for Sagarmatha National Park, I remember seeking Nick’s advice about the possibility of taking on Mike Edginton as part of his Lincoln University studies. Mike needed to undertake one year of practical work and he was keen to do this in Nepal. It was Nick’s endorsement that convinced me that this idea would work – and it did extremely well!
I could ramble on about various trips we did with Nick – such as the 16 hour Sunday trip down the Waiohine Gorge with Norm, Easter trips to the Kaikoura Mountains, Alpine instruction courses – the list could go on and on.
A short whakataukī (sayings),
‘Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui-a-Tāne.’
The tōtara tree has fallen in Tāne’s great forest.
A saying that carries the message that someone of great mana has died.
Nga mihi nui
More info on Nick’s outdoor involvement:
Nick’s service to WTMC and NZ mountain clubs: (taken from our club’s journal)
Appointed Life member; 1982
Joined WTMC, 1950
Chief Guide, 1960, 1961
General Committee, 1964 – 1969
Vice President, 1965, 1968, 1975
President, 1966, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974
Extra activities connected with tramping and mountaineering:
Search and Rescue Convenor 1974-1977, Committee 1977-1987
NZ Mountain Safety Council Chairman
Ski Patrol Ambulance Driver, 10 years
Wellington Associated Mountain Clubs. Secretary-Treasurer-President
Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, Executive Committee 1964-65 and 1977, Vice President 1966 – 68 and 1976, and President 1974 -75
NZ Forest Park Policy Committee, 1964 -67
Firearms Safety Committee, 1965
Conservation and Environment Committee, 1973
Mountain Guides Committee, 1974
Mountaineering Promotion Committee, 1975
Administration and Finance Committee, 1974 – 1975
Tongariro – Taupo National Parks and Reserves Board
Honorary Ranger of Tongariro National Park
Honorary Ranger in NZ Forest Service