Queenstown Trails Trust chairman Terry Stevens and trust
chief executive Kaye Parker beside the recently completed
Wall of Recognition on the Queenstown Trail. Mr Stevens
will step down from the role he has held for the past five
years at the trust's annual meeting tomorrow night. Photo
by Tracey Roxburgh.
After five years at the helm of a trust which has been
responsible for stimulating the Queenstown Lakes economy
through the development of 110km of trails, Terry Stevens has
decided it is time for a change.
Tomorrow Mr Stevens will step down from his role as the
Queenstown Trails Trust chairman, with a feeling of pride at
what he had helped achieve.
''I can leave feeling good that we've developed something
during the last five years, something really significant that
will be a continuing asset to the community, that will stay
here for generations to come.''
Mr Stevens, originally from Seattle, and his wife Susan, from
Ohio, have been Gibbston residents since 1999. However,
settling in the area was not initially part of their plan.
''We were living in Napa [Valley, California] and we decided
we wanted to learn more about Australian wine.
''We set up a six-month journey to include five months in
every major wine region in Australia and one month in New
Zealand - primarily because we wanted to see the country.''
Having completed the Australian leg, the couple flew from
Melbourne to Christchurch, then drove to Banks Peninsula, to
be greeted with an ''amazing'' sunset, which left a lasting
first impression that ''didn't quit''.
Eventually they made their way to Queenstown, and discovered
Wakatipu had ''exactly what we were looking for in terms of a
place to spend the rest of our lives''.
They bought land, built a home and about five years later
became ''grateful citizens''.
It was that attitude that saw them quickly become part of the
community, supporting events and helping wherever possible.
''We've always felt it's important ... to give back as much
''That's why we've got involved in things like this.
''We'll continue to find ways ... to give back.''
Mrs Stevens set about establishing the Gibbston River Trail,
part of which involved liaising with the Queenstown Trails
Trust, formerly the Wakatipu Trails Trust.
''She said that they were doing really good work, but they
were also looking for a chairman.
''John Wilson [the former trust chairman] had been around six
years and was ready to move on.
''I felt good about it ... I talked to Sir Eion Edgar, who
was the patron at the time ... The rest is history,'' Mr
At that time, the trust had ''11 or 12 priorities'' and was
investigating ''about 90 different projects'', none of which
seemed to be progressing. The challenge was to ''get the
''We put a real emphasis on focus - the No 1 priority was to
focus on fundraising.
''We weren't going to get anywhere without funding, and we
weren't going to get funding without projects.''
It was around that time Kaye Parker - a woman Mr Stevens
described as the ''Energizer bunny'' and the ''heart and soul
of the trust'' - was appointed as the trust's chief
And then came Prime Minister John Key's proposal to construct
cycle trails throughout New Zealand to stimulate employment.
''They wanted to create jobs quickly. They really did rush it
''The paperwork came down here and just sat around.
''Nobody had much enthusiasm for it [and] by the time we got
hold of it ... we had a very short period of time to submit
Mrs Parker, however, went to work assisted by Mandy Kennedy,
now the trust's marketing director, and within a few short
months the application was lodged, accepted and the
experience Mr Stevens described as a ''roller coaster''
Looking back on the job he intended doing for only three
years, he said there were three major highlights during his
time steering the trust.
''The fact that we've been able to work really well as a
trust and get results - the trust has raised $6 million,
which is amazing in this climate.
''A lot of this was being done during the global financial
The second major achievement was to secure easements to build
the 110km Queenstown Trail - and opening it on time, he said.
Finally, the trust's announcement earlier this year it had
bought the Motatapu was a way of broadening its funding base,
ensuring financially it would be in a good place in the
Mr Stevens said following his last meeting in Queenstown
tomorrow he would set about ''enjoying life'', focusing on
the Grateful Citizens Society, which Mrs Stevens established.
''I think it's a good time to go.
''At this AGM, for the first time in about four years,
instead of saying we've achieved a lot, but it's all a work
in progress, this year I'm reporting achievement.''