Auckland Council this week acknowledged the passing of Pierre Chatelanat, who, together with his wife, Jackie, gifted the people of Auckland their third-largest regional park.
Councillor Mike Lee, former chair of the Auckland Regional Council that took on management of the farm park, says Mr Chatelanat was a life-long humanitarian.
A 'humble and gentle man'
“Pierre was a humble and gentle man who was more interested in watching the public enjoying his farm as a regional park than seeking praise or celebrity," says Cr Lee.
“When he and Jackie entrusted their 843ha coastal property to the council, so that all New Zealanders might enjoy access to it forever, we saw an act of generosity on a scale rarely seen in this country, especially nowadays.
“Upon arriving New Zealand to farm on the Kaipara in 1951, Pierre already had a vision of improving the land, building a magnificent sheep and cattle station and then giving it back.
“He continued to work with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, specialising in food research and bringing relief to famine-ravaged countries, and kept a close eye on the development of his farm from wherever he was abroad.
“Pierre’s legacy will live on in the sprawling countryside park on the Tapora Peninsula where people can now explore, ride and stay overnight – just as Pierre intended – over the farmland, amid thousands of native and exotic trees, and on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour,” says Cr Lee.
Atiu Creek Regional Park was gifted to the people of New Zealand, and entrusted to the council, by Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat in October 2005. It was opened to the public on 5 April 2008 and continues to be developed as a regional park. Since taking on the park and opening it to the public, the council has added mountain bike and horse trails, walking tracks, accessways and a campground.
Interpretive panels around the park tell Pierre and Jackie’s story, as well as highlighting the farming history of the property and how it is farmed by the council today. One of these panels carries a direct quote from Pierre Chatelanat himself, referring to his vision for the property to be protected in public ownership, “It’s a life’s work, a dream… this way it goes on.”
Visitors can also stay in the Courtyard House where the Chatelanat’s lived on the property, even after it had opened as a regional park.
At 843 hectares, Atiu Creek Regional Park is the region’s third-largest regional park, after the Waitākere and Hunua ranges.
Mr Chatelanat passed away on 5 May and is survived by his wife Jackie.