New track honours NZ pioneer

Heritage New Zealand assessment adviser Sarah Gallagher, of Dunedin, opens the Sir Truby King...
Heritage New Zealand assessment adviser Sarah Gallagher, of Dunedin, opens the Sir Truby King Railway Bridge Walking Track in Tahakopa, in the Catlins, on Saturday afternoon. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
A new Catlins walking track opened in Tahakopa at the weekend pays tribute to a notable New Zealand pioneer.

The Sir Truby King Railway Bridge Walking Track — which runs alongside the Tahakopa River — was formally opened by Heritage New Zealand assessment adviser Sarah Gallagher, of Dunedin, before a crowd of about 50 on Saturday afternoon.

The 500m track leads through mature totara to a 97-year-old category 2 heritage-listed bridge fragment, which Sir Truby built to link his logging and dairy operations to the nearby railway branch line.

Mrs Gallagher praised project leaders for their efforts in researching the historic construction, and for bringing it to Heritage NZ’s attention.

"We have a lot of history in the South we can be proud of, and this adds another piece to that picture, helping record Sir Truby’s contributions within other fields, and his links to this part of the Catlins," she said.

Information panels sponsored by baby formula manufacturer Danone, which has a factory in nearby Clydevale, tell Sir Truby’s story, and detail his time on the 600-hectare farm.

At its peak, the farm supplied the Tahakopa cheese factory — also established by Sir Truby — with 1.5 tonnes of milk a week.

The qualified doctor — who famously went on to establish Plunket and introduced infant formula to New Zealand — also built 24 rent-free houses for his sawmill staff, and provided them and their families with free milk and free infant medical care.

Project leader Don Sinclair said although it had taken three years to bring the track into commission from conception, he believed its namesake would have been proud of the efficiency of its eventual construction, which began only last month.

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