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Westland to the World

Celebrating 150 years of Connection

Westland to the World

Celebrating 150 years of Connection

Westland to the World

Celebrating 150 years of Connection

What is 150 Years of Connection?

150 Years of Connection marks the 150th year of Westland formally existing as a district (formerly a province). That’s 150 years of connection to the rest of the world – first by foot, then by horse, carriage, ship, car, train, and later plane. To celebrate, Westland is hosting a flurry of events over the period of August ‘23 – August ‘24, and we invite you to join us.

The project honours the people and their creative, dedicated approach to building infrastructure to overcome obstacles such as foreboding mountains, raging rivers, deep forests, and wild weather. It also highlights connection between people, nature and communities… any bonds that make our District the unique place it is today.

What’s On?

March 9

Hokitika Classic Surf Competition

The annual Hokitika Classic, a true backyard surf competition. Kicking off first thing Saturday morning. A $20 entry fee will go towards entertainment and camping. Spot prizes will be awarded

March 9

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival 2024

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival – Saturday 9th March 2024 Hokitika’s annual Wildfoods Festival is a celebration of the West Coast’s unique wild food and lifestyle, accompanied by premier entertainment. Visitors can

March 11

South Island Ultra Marathon

There are 3 events all being held on the amazing West Coast Wilderness Trail where runners will experience Lakes, Reservoirs, Rivers, Streams, Water Races, Swing Bridges, Bridges from Historic Tram

Destination Westland South Island Ultra Marathon

March 2

Lake Kaniere Triathlon

The Lake Kaniere Scenic Triathlon, in its 39th year includes a kayak triathlon, swim triathlon, long distance swim, duathlon, run, walk, junior swim triathlon and a junior duathlon.

Lake Kaniere Tri | 150 Years of Connection
  • March 9

    Hokitika Classic Surf Competition

    The annual Hokitika Classic, a true backyard surf competition. Kicking off first thing Saturday morning. A $20 entry fee will go towards entertainment and camping. Spot prizes will be awarded
  • March 9

    Hokitika Wildfoods Festival 2024

    Hokitika Wildfoods Festival – Saturday 9th March 2024 Hokitika’s annual Wildfoods Festival is a celebration of the West Coast’s unique wild food and lifestyle, accompanied by premier entertainment. Visitors can
  • March 11

    South Island Ultra Marathon

    There are 3 events all being held on the amazing West Coast Wilderness Trail where runners will experience Lakes, Reservoirs, Rivers, Streams, Water Races, Swing Bridges, Bridges from Historic Tram
  • March 2

    Lake Kaniere Triathlon

    The Lake Kaniere Scenic Triathlon, in its 39th year includes a kayak triathlon, swim triathlon, long distance swim, duathlon, run, walk, junior swim triathlon and a junior duathlon.

Stories of Connection

Teichleman | Hokitika

Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann

In 1859 South Australia, Adelaide, Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann was born (Little Doctor he was later nicknamed). Teichelmann grew up on a farm and when his family decided to move, he remained in Adelaide, moving up the ranks, working as a pharmacist. He eventually studied and became a Doctor, ending up in Hokitika in 1897. He took up the position of medical Superintendent at the Westland Hospital. In 1899 Ebenezer encountered his first excursion into the mountains, where he fell in love with mountaineering. For the next 25 years Ebenezer explored, mountaineered, photographed, and discovered the valleys, mountains and Glaciers of the West Coast. Alongside his work as a Surgeon, Teichelmann achieved 26 first ascents of mountains and seven first ascents, or crossings, of passes, cols, or saddles, and is credited with reviving climbing in New Zealand when the sport was almost dead. He was instrumental in photographing and later funded early aviation in Westland. He was one of two passengers on Maurice Buckley’s first flight to South Westland where they successfully photographed the Alps and Glaciers from the air. Ebenezer died on the 20th of December 1938.

To this day people can go visit Teichelmann’s old private surgery that he opened at 20 Hamilton Street, this has now been turned into a bed and breakfast, named after him.

Richard Seddon | Destination Hokitika

Richard Seddon (King Dick)

Born in the United Kingdom, in 1845, Richard John Seddon did not know he would one day grow up to become New Zealand’s longest serving Prime minister. School did not last long for
Seddon as he was kicked out at 12, resulting in him working on his Grandfather’s farm. Richard worked many little jobs after this until 1866 when he decided to move to Hokitika, where he
worked at a Gold Mine on the Waimea Creek. Whilst living on the West Coast, Seddon took interest in local politics, as he was elected in 1876 to Westland County council and he was also
elected first Mayor of Kumara in 1877.

Richard was a natural born leader and continuously advocated for Miners on the West Coast and their rights (referring to the conditions they were working in). This passion led to Richard being elected in parliament to represent Hokitika in 1879, three years later he secured a seat for Kumara. Seddon became Prime Minister on 1 May 1893 and he always held a special place for the Westland Region in his heart as he believed the West Coast is a distinctive part of New Zealand.

Bert Mercer | 150 Years of Connection

Bert Mercer

During World War one, Bert was one of the first to join the newly formed Canterbury aviation company in Christchurch. He helped to build aircraft as well as proving he was a good instructor. He joined the R.L Wigley in Timaru and became chief pilot of the New Zealand Aero transport company. Berts greatest achievement was starting New Zealand’s first licensed scheduled air service which was based in Hokitika. The first commercial flight commenced on 10 December 1934.

In his Fox Moth plane Bert picked up two passengers from the transalpine train at Inchbonnie, flying them to Hokitika and onto Franz Josef Glacier for tea, the return flight had them back in time for the train back to Christchurch that evening. He named his airline Air travel (NZ) Ltd which in later years as part of a nationwide movement turned into Air New Zealand. Bert commonly landed on beaches, in riverbeds and at the back doors of settlers in the remote South Island hinterland. He flew locals to and from Hokitika hospital, he flew tourists, deerstalkers and prospectors to areas that would have taken weeks to get to on foot. He delivered whitebait, crayfish, gold, machinery parts, women’s fashion clothing, newspapers, mail and medicine for locals, anything they needed he provided. 

Bert was just 58 when he passed and will always be remembered as a generous, kind, humble man who didn’t get enough credit for what he achieved.

“On the way down the coast the steamer is never very far out at sea, and the great mountain ranges forming the Southern Alps present one of the greatest sights imaginable.” – Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann

“We have spoken about industrial arbitration. Let me make this quite clear. The time has come for it to be compulsory. In Gods own country, let there be an honest day’s pay for an
honest day’s work.” – Richard Seddon

“He really looked after people living in isolated parts of South Westland.” – Letti McEwan

Funding for Event Organisers

We are welcoming Westland-based event organisers to apply for funding to promote events that celebrate connection in our district.

The key objectives of the project are to:

  • Bring West Coasters home for specific events and festivities that have a connection with the project through 2023 & 24.
  • To financially support events in the district that have a link with the ‘connection’ element.
  • To enhance the capability of these events with marketing and infrastructure support to ‘celebrate the hard work that has been done by many to connect our region to the world over the last 150 Years’.
  • To celebrate the stories associated with ‘connecting the district’ and to build confidence in the telling of them.

Key criteria for you to consider for project event funding are:

  • In what way does it match the theme of Connection?
  • Is your event repeatable?
  • Is your event running prior to August 2024?
  • What time of year and how many people would it involve?
  • Do you have (the right) people in organisational roles that would be best supported by a marketing budget ?(This is where we come in – provision of, and assistance with your event marketing).

If your event meets the above criteria and you would like to be part of the 150 Years of Celebration, please complete the registration form below.

Where to Stay

For your trip planning and travel ideas in Westland check out the Hokitika I-site website.

While You’re In Town