Dog-lover's gift fulfilled with park commemoration

By Peter de Graaf

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EARS PINNED: Milo, a dingo-labrador cross, listens attentively as Far North Mayor John Carter (in suit) remembers the gift of the late Roland Sansom to the people and dogs of Kerikeri. Milo has been coming to Roland's Wood for the past 12 years. PHOTO/PETER DE GRAAF
EARS PINNED: Milo, a dingo-labrador cross, listens attentively as Far North Mayor John Carter (in suit) remembers the gift of the late Roland Sansom to the people and dogs of Kerikeri. Milo has been coming to Roland's Wood for the past 12 years. PHOTO/PETER DE GRAAF

Sixty people and a dozen dogs of various shapes and sizes braved dire weather to remember one man's gift to Kerikeri.

When dog-lover Roland Sansom died in 2001 he bequeathed a 4ha woodland he had planted on Kerikeri Inlet Rd to the town's canine and human inhabitants, in the care of the Far North District Council.

That gift, now known as Roland's Wood, was commemorated on a rainy Tuesday afternoon with the unveiling of a plaque by Far North Mayor John Carter.

The plaque was installed by Kerikeri Rotary Club, which adopted the woodland and Mr Sansom's dream of a park where dogs could roam off the leash as a long-term project five years ago.

The unveiling doubled as a chance for Mr Carter to present Rotarian John Horrell, one of the key volunteers behind the project, with a 2013 Far North District Council Citizen's Award.

Mr Horrell was away when the 15 other winners received their awards in September.

"If the world was full of John Horrells, what a magic place it would be," Mr Carter said.

Mr Horrell said he was almost embarrassed to receive the award because he was just one member of a dedicated team.

Among the Rotarians, gardeners and dog lovers present at the ceremony was Mr Sansom's cousin Tony Edgar of Pt Wells, near Warkworth.

Mr Sansom originally farmed further down Inlet Rd but bought the land, Mr Edgar's parents' farm, when he retired, setting part of it aside to pursue his dream.

"There's a lot of good memories here," Mr Edgar said.

Mr Horrell and fellow Rotarian John Graham are NZ Gardener Magazine's gardeners of the Year for their work at Roland's Wood.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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