Lange, manager get access awards

Mahu Whenua manager Russell Hamilton and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston at Tuesday's Walking Access Champion awards ceremony. Photo by Lindsay Keats.
Mahu Whenua manager Russell Hamilton and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston at Tuesday's Walking Access Champion awards ceremony. Photo by Lindsay Keats.
The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ''Mutt'' Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange's award on his behalf, said it was ''very nice'' to be recognised.

His boss, on the other hand, was ''pretty laid-back'' about such recognition.

''Getting him to a ceremony like that would take a couple of teams of horses.''

Mr Lange bought the leases for Coronet Peak, Glencoe, Motatapu and Mount Soho Stations between 2003 and 2011, and under Mr Hamilton's supervision has introduced sustainable farming practices, extensive plant regeneration and a native bird breeding programme.

In 2015, four QEII National Trust protective covenants, collectively known as Mahu Whenua, were placed over 95% of the land.

In addition to the creation of the Motatapu Track eight years ago, 23 trails are being either upgraded or built, many in partnership with public and private bodies.

The citation for the pair's awards said they were taking a ''positive and proactive'' approach to access and conservation.

Well before formal easements were in place, tracks and routes had been marked and signposted across the two stations nearest to Arrowtown.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay said the pair were very deserving.

''The work they've put into unlocking this large part of Central Otago is extraordinary. Not only has their generosity and effort opened up a massive chunk of the area for Kiwis to enjoy, but they're also ensuring native wildlife is re-introduced and protected.

He commended Mr Lange for his ''enormous contribution'' to New Zealand.

Take a walk with us through Mahu Whenua in The Weekend Mix on Saturday.

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