IN THE NEWS
Historic wreckage removed illegally
By TANYA KATTERNS - The Dominion Post Last updated 22:46 06/03/2009 Share Print Text Size Supplied DISAPPEARING PLANE: The air force Devon became a landmark high up in the Tararua Range.
The wreckage of a plane strewn near the gravesites of two pilots killed in the crash in the Tararua Range more than 50 years ago has been stripped in an act damned by the Conservation Department "as daylight robbery".
In the past week, parts of the plane's remains, which are now owned by the Crown, have been whisked away and other sections have been moved into clearings for easier removal.
The plane, an RNZAF Devon, was on a training flight from Ohakea when it crashed on Shingle Slip Knob, near Mt Holdsworth, on February 17, 1955.
Flight lieutenants Edward Casey and William Trott were buried 100 metres from the site on a hilltop after their bodies were discovered three days later.
The wreckage and the two simple white crosses bearing the men's names have remained there as a grim reminder of the hazards of the rugged range.
The Conservation Department, which manages Tararua Forest Park, was alerted this week to efforts to remove the wreckage by helicopter.
Tramper Barry Durrant told The Dominion Post he saw a red and white Hughes 500 helicopter make three trips to the site of the wreckage last Friday.
An engine was seen being lifted out of the wreckage and taken to a clearing at a road end.
DOC's Wairarapa area manager Chris Lester said the crash site, though not listed as having historical protection, was part of the forest park's history.
"Even if someone had approached us for consent, I would never have approved it till the RNZAF and the families of the two men who died and were buried nearby were consulted."
The wreckage belonged to the Crown, as it was on crown land, and any attempts to recover the plane had to be granted consent.
"We have been in contact with our lawyers and whatever is going on up there is very illegal. Daylight robbery even. Anyone who thinks they can try to do something like that covertly are fooling themselves."
Mr Lester and a DOC ranger flew to the site on Wednesday.
"There is certainly clear evidence that the engine is gone. Part of a wing has been moved to a clearing for easier removal. We don't know who is behind it and what the motive is. While there may be suspicions, the investigation and groundwork begins.
"We will be monitoring the site."
hope these halfwits get caught and dealt with, have never been to the wreckage myself but these people obviously show no regard or respect for the pilots and their families
Considering a helicopter was seen doing it (or at least acting very suspiciously) and identified to the make and model, it surely isn't likely to take too look to track these people down. Even if it hadn't been witnessed, it couldn't be difficult to figure out that a helicopter would be needed and that alone would narrow down the suspects to just a few.
The whole thing just seems amazing to me. I have trouble understanding how someone with enough money to throw around to use a helicopter could just assume it was legal, or otherwise think they could get away with it. Unless it's some kind of protest action and someone actually wants to be caught.
as a chopper was used and witnessed there must have been a flight plan etc so shouldent be hard to trace then fine the miscreants to the full extent of the law ,and the chopper co as accessory to theft .maby add said chopper to the wreck site as a warning to others :)
I have been to the site, and it is a great trip. So really puzzling to understand why anyone would want to remove it. Out of context, (ie, sitting in the Tararuas) what value other than scrap?
Though there has been a lot of crashed aircraft in the islands removed for the purpose of restoration. Though this seems kind of ludicrous in this case.
Online logs proposed as tourist safety
By SUE FEA - The Southland Times
Trampers, climbers and visitors heading into the Kiwi outdoors may be asked to log their intentions online before departing from their home countries under a proposal suggested by New Zealand Land Search and Rescue.
LandSAR chief executive Hadyn Smith said in Queenstown yesterday several different agencies, including the tourism industry and LandSAR, were working with the Conservation Department on the best way to keep track of visitors in our backcountry.
"They need to be able to log in offshore but they would also have to be able to log in any changes (throughout their trip)," Mr Smith said.
DOC was looking at updating its visitor information forms for all backcountry tracks and climbing routes and making those available in a number of different languages, Mr Smith said. "We want to make sure we are getting in the face of tourists it's about education."
Individuals needed to take responsibility for their own safety and the availability of emergency locator beacons had prompted an increase in beacon call-outs.
Mr Smith said he did not believe this meant greater numbers of people were getting into danger in the backcountry but rather a greater awareness about safety.
There would always be half a dozen "idiots" every year who would do something stupid, Mr Smith said. "But at the end of the day even stupid people deserve to be rescued."
It was up to the police to decide whether the negligent ones were prosecuted.
Has there been any more news about the removal of the plane crash is the Tararuas? There doesn't seem to be any reporting of this incident beyond the Dominion. I would imagine there would be a fairly quick resolution this considering the description given by witnesses. Maybe DOC don't consider it hight enough on the priorities to follow up.
(Actually I'm not sure if it was published in the DomPost today or yesterday.)
Here's a link to the story which might be more reliable. I think some of the Stuff links sometimes break after a few days.
The 3 News website also has an article, although it seems to be derived from the DomPost article. It may be worth keeping an eye on the TV news tonight, though.
Thanks for posting this. I think the Masterton Museum has acted very arrogantly and I hope DOC throw the book at them. I have emailed the secretary of FMC about this and asked what their position is.
Mind you DOC aren't beyond a bit of desecration thenselves. There used to be a plane crash from the 1950s on the Harris Saddle. I had taken people to it often when I guided on Routeburn Track in the 1970s. However when I visited there in the mid 1990s it had been removed. I found out the next day that it had been removed by DOC themselves in the week prior to my visit. The reason was that when they rerouted the track it became visible from the new track.
I have a photo of a DOC vehicle piled high with the wreckage. i suspect it all went to the dump.
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