Mayor Phil Goff and the council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee today acknowledged the passing last week of Jackie Chatelanat.
"To come to this country with a determination that you were going to give this land to the country of your adoption is a very special thing to have done.
“Today we pay tribute to Jackie who recently passed away but also to her late husband Pierre for their vision; for their contribution; for their service to our city,” says Mayor Phil Goff.
Pierre and Jackie approached the ARC in 2005 to offer their farm – just 20 minutes west of Wellsford – as a regional park, entrusted to the council to look after, so that all New Zealanders might enjoy unrivalled access to the Kaipara.
Upon arriving in 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. It was during this time that he met Jackie and later, when they finished their work with the UN, they both moved to the Tapora property.
Mace Ward, the council’s General Manager of Parks, Sports and Recreation, says Atiu Creek has a special place in the regional parks network.
“In terms of size, Atiu Creek is only rivalled by the Hunua and Waitakere ranges regional parks, which means that it offers visitors an opportunity to truly immerse themselves in a large expanse of open space on the Kaipara Harbour.
“Since first meeting Pierre and Jackie more than 15 years ago, council rangers and staff, local iwi and the community of the Taporapora peninsula have worked to achieve their vision – something we’ve been very proud to do.
“Pierre and Jackie were incredibly private people who only wanted to see their property turned into a public park. They refused publicity or widespread recognition but were delighted to see their property go from working farm to a countryside park humming with visitors,” says Mace.
Jackie gave few interviews but in a conversation with historian Graeme Murdoch in 2006, talked of her first impression of the farm in 1986. She expected, ‘… a few buildings and cows wandering around and a bit of a pond.’ But was surprised to encounter a beautifully planned model farm with a two-kilometre driveway flanked by beautiful tall trees and green land that was more like a park than a farm.
Since it opened to the public in 2008, the council has carried out extensive pest management and native planting programmes; established a campground and made houses on the property available for public booking, hosted more than 1800 people at the Earthbeat festival and developed a wide range of recreational opportunities, including horse-riding which this countryside park is perfect for.
Visitors can stay in the Courtyard House where the Chatelanat’s lived on the property, even after it had opened as a regional park.
Pierre Chatelanat passed away in May 2018.