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Unveiling of David Herd Statue on May 7

MEDIA RELEASE April 7, 2008

Pioneer Wine Maker Honoured

Unveiling of DAVID HERD Statue on May 7

Marlborough, now world-renowned as the source of premium wines, is to honour its first winemaker, David Herd. A statue will be unveiled at Blenheim airport, the gateway to the region, to celebrate Herd's place in the history of Marlborough and the industry.

Scotsman David Herd arrived in the Wairau Valley in 1855 and, while working as manager of the 20,000-acre Meadowbank Station, planted grapes on some neighbouring land owned by Reverend Charles Saxton. In 1879, Herd bought this piece of land from Saxton, named it Auntsfield and ran it as a commercial vineyard until his death in 1905.

The statue of Herd was commissioned by the Cowley family, current owners of the Auntsfield vineyard. Graeme Cowley, a film maker with a passion for history, uncovered Herd's story and decided to commission the statue to recognise this pioneer. Cowley had seen the statue "The Drover and his Dogs", by Manawatu sculptor John Fuller, in Feilding and asked Fuller to create the Herd statue based on old photographs. Fuller will attend the ceremony.

The unveiling ceremony, on Wednesday May 7 at 11.30 am at Blenheim Airport, will be attended by members of Herd's family, including his great-grandson Felix Herd (98) and great-great-grandson John Gleeson (82), who will jointly reveal the statue. Many of Herd's descendants still live in Blenheim and Gleeson and his mother (Herd's great-granddaughter Sarah, who died last year at 100) have helped Cowley in his research into Herd and the vineyard. Marlborough Mayor, Alistair Sowman, who will speak at the unveiling, says,

"I commend and thank the Cowleys for this initiative. It is important to acknowledge our past and this is an excellent contribution to our knowledge of our local history. It also fits well with the work that the Marlborough Museum is doing with the wine industry, to record the history of viticulture in Marlborough. It is a timely reminder that the roots of the industry lie with our colonial pioneers."

The statue will be blessed by kaumatua Richard Bradley, chairman of Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust, and the keynote speech about David Herd's life and work will be presented by historian and lawyer Ron Crosby, who is a neighbour of Auntsfield.

Through his passion for back-country hiking, he is very familiar with the land David Herd worked. Crosby has written several books, including The Musket Wars and Gilbert Mair ­ Te Kooti's Nemesis, and his legal work involves consulting in resource management for the wine, aquaculture and forestry industries and iwi issues including the Waitangi Tribunal Te Tau Ihu Inquiry.

Following the unveiling, Auntsfield Estate is launching its Heritage 2005 Pinot Noir at a luncheon on the Estate, 15 minutes away from the Airport. A bottle of this wine will be placed in a time capsule in the statue.


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