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Conservation Minister pays tribute to Brian Ahern

The Minister of Conservation, Hon Sandra Lee, says New Zealand has lost a person of great standing in the conservation world with the sudden death this week of Brian Ahern, of Wanaka. Mr Ahern's funeral will be held in Wanaka tomorrow (Friday 24 March).

"I pay tribute to his contribution to conservation", Ms Lee said. "As one of the long-serving officers with DOC and its Lands and Survey predecessor, his life was a wonderful example of dedication, commitment and service."

Born in Wellington, Mr Ahern worked in many locations around New Zealand including Tongariro, Westland and Fiordland National Parks as well as the Mount Aspiring National Park and Queenstown. He was also closely involved with Search and Rescue in the Wakatipu district, as SAR adviser in Queenstown and also as Chairman of the Otago-Southland SAR region.

His carpentry skills took him to Nepal on a hospital project with Sir Edmund Hillary, and to the Antarctic where he was seconded to the DSIR's summer support team. Mr Ahern also served as DOC's representative on tourist boats to the sub-Antarctic Islands where he enhanced his reputation for resourcefulness and practical advice in difficult situations.

"As Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, I acknowledge the respect which Nga Tahu had for his knowledge and work in areas such as the pounamu at Slip Stream in the Dart Valley," said Ms Lee.

"I have extended my condolences to his wife and family on behalf of the Government and his many colleagues and friends," she said. "The Department of Conservation and all of us are diminished by his death."

ends

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