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What is 150 years of Connection?


The ‘150 years of Connection project’ is about celebrating the linking of Westland to the world, first by foot, then by horse, carriage, ship, car, train, and later plane.

Honoring the people and their creative and dedicated approach to building a transport infrastructure to overcome obstacles such as foreboding mountains, raging rivers, deep forests, and wild weather. This project rolls out over the next year and will celebrate the way in which people have travelled to the region and how the infrastructure has been developed increasing our districts ‘connection’ over the decades.

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.

For more details or information on this project please contact us: 150years@hokitika.org

Upcoming Events:


150 Years of Connection brings a historical ‘Homecoming Concert’ to the district in August 2023:

In 1922 and 1923 Blenheim-born soprano Rosina Buckman made a triumphant homecoming tour, bringing with her cellist Adelina Leon and pianist-composer Percy Kahn. Rosina’s farewell concert in London was to an audience of 10,000 in the Royal Albert Hall. Her tour began in Wellington on 15 May 1922 and ended in March the following year after more than 110 performances across New Zealand and Australia including Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport.
Rosina travelled by car and coach across the rugged Ōtira Gorge and travelled the coast exploring as far south as Franz Josef Glacier where she hiked upon the ice with the legendary guide Peter Graham. New Zealanders couldn’t get enough of their homegrown singing superstar.

An excerpt from the Hokitika Guardian on 5 Feb 1923 reads:

“There was a very appreciative audience at the Princess Theatre on Saturday night when Miss Rosina Buckman and her party graced the occasion. The artists provided a feast of music, and a flow of soul that was altogether delightful – one of those all too rare occasions which fall to the lot of this distant portion of the Dominion.”

Now, a century after the original tour, Hammers & Horsehair reimagines Rosina’s homecoming by performing a salon concert. Cellist Robert Ibell and soprano Rowena Simpson join forces with well-known Wellington pianist, Jonathan Berkahn to reimagine the original tour of 1922-23.

150 years of Connection has the pleasure in bringing the Hammers & Horsehair to Ōtira and Hokitika aligning with the 100-year commemorations of the Tunnel opening. This tour will see them performing the classics from Rosina’s original tour, playing at Ōtira on the 4th August during the 100 year commemorations followed by an evening concert at Hokitika’s Old Lodge Theatre on Saturday the 5th August.

We will officially launch the 150 Years of Connection project as a key part of the evening at the Old Lodge and provide details on the project’s vision and mission.
Free to all!
Bookings essential as seats are limited.


Ōtira Tunnel 100 Year Commemorations:


The project is proud to support the Ōtira Tunnel commemorations on the 4th of August celebrating 100 years since the tunnel was officially opened in 1923. The tunnel gave access to the West Coast from Canterbury and is a significant part of Westland’s history of connection, it marked a major transition in the way people and goods travelled in and out of the region which holds true today. The commemorations on August 4th celebrate those who worked, lived and played in Ōtira and Arthur’s Pass during the building and opening of the Ōtira tunnel. To learn more, and purchase tickets to this event, please visit the links below.

Facebook – Otira Tunnel Commemorations 2023