Community man left his mark

Kevin Baker, an early environmentalist who contributed greatly to Queenstown with his ‘can do’ attitude, died in Christchurch last month, aged 83, after a long battle with cancer.

In the 1960s and into the ’70s he drove tour buses into Queenstown when the resort was connected by mainly gravel roads, then settled into building houses.

He became a crafter of quality greenstone pieces in the 1980s, then left to build churches in Japan in the late ’90s before retiring to Canterbury.

Kevin’s son, Cliff, says when he played ice hockey his dad was very active in the club, and raised money by chopping down trees on Ben Lomond to sell firewood.

After unsuccessfully trying to convince the council to build a community ice rink, he convinced Indonesian Firdaus Siddik and Tahitian Christophe Huck to build today’s covered rink.

Kevin constructed treetop swings on Bob’s Peak for locals to enjoy and ploughed out, from Lomond Cres, some of what became the Queenstown Bike Park’s first mountain bike tracks.

Cliff says the ‘‘eyewateringly-high’’ swings were so popular his dad also tried to put swings out over the Shotover River, by Edith Cavell Bridge, but encountered too many roadblocks.

Kevin was also an early member of the former Wakatipu Environmental Society.

‘‘He got protection orders for a lot of trees around the community after council chopped some down in the park,’’ Cliff says.

His dad also constructed the concrete path from Shotover St, by the Crowne Plaza hotel, to the bottom of Hay St.

Kevin’s survived by four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Friends and family are getting together later this year for a local memorial and tree planting in his honour.

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