Avid tramper seeks new challenge in walking access role
A ‘great belief’ in outdoor access, born from a childhood spent tramping up mountains with his father and three brothers, prompted Chris Ward to apply for the Wellington regional field advisor role for the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
“The tramping expeditions started when I was around eight. My brothers and I were all quite close in age and so it generally became a bit of a race up the mountain, to see who made it to the top first,” Mr Ward said.
He started his working life as a farm consultant in the Hawkes’ Bay. He has also worked in the meat industry, in rural property management, in agri-business teaching, and in policy roles relating to agriculture, forestry and horticulture.
His new role at the Commission, which he began on 14 December, involves negotiating access and helping different parties find solutions to access disputes and misunderstandings, as well as raising awareness of responsible behaviour in the outdoors. The role means working closely with landowners, something Mr Ward has had plenty of experience with and is looking forward continuing.
“Farmers are pretty good people, who are generally very open and reasonable about access over their land,” he said.
In his spare time, Mr Ward is part of a group that heads weekly into the Eastbourne Hills to trap possums. Over the past five years, they have trapped 860 possums, something he believes has resulted in more birds in the area.
Another favourite pastime is an annual tramping trip with a group of friends. “It’s quite ambitious and a bit of a hoot – this party of six men in their early 60s,” Mr Ward said.
When he’s not tramping or trapping possums, Mr Ward also volunteers as a budgetary advisor to families experiencing financial difficulties.
New Zealand Walking Access Commission Chief Executive Mark Neeson said Mr Ward’s background makes him an ideal candidate for the Wellington regional field advisor position.
“Mr Ward brings a huge amount of energy and experience, and a pragmatic approach to the role. I couldn’t be more pleased to have him join us,” Mr Neeson said.