Throwing some light on our past

By, Kelli Hooks

The spotlight was on Castlepoint during the weekend as thousands gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of Castlepoint Lighthouse.

Event organiser John Keen said two to three thousand came along to enjoy events at the lighthouse on Saturday which included Department of Conservation (DoC) guided tours around the reserve and an opening up of the lighthouse to the public from 12pm to 5pm.

Mr Keen said the best part of the lighthouse celebrations was seeing the lighthouse lit up.

"We had the light glowing last night.

"The place was just alive, it was Courtenay Place in Castlepoint," Mr Keen said.

The main event, a celebration held in the old Castlepoint woolshed, began at 7pm and was attended by 300 people, including former lighthouse keepers and their families.

Castlepoint's last lighthouse keeper Grant Hinchcliff travelled over from Sydney for the celebrations.

The keepers entertained guests by telling stories about lighthouse life.

"We had the son of a lighthouse keeper, Brian Emerson, he spoke as well about when he was a child using his horse, Dolly, to cart kerosene up to the lighthouse," Mr Keen said.

Radio presenter Marcus Lush spoke about why New Zealand's first lighthouse was built and why we had a need for lighthouses in New Zealand.

During the day former keepers were given tours around the lighthouse in a fishing vehicle and attended a reunion luncheon.

"The reunion guys were just overwhelmed, they couldn't believe we had so much on," he said.

Celebrations continued yesterday with helicopter rides, sand castle and kite flying competitions, Castlepoint Station drives, sheep shearing, Cavalcade riders, DoC guided tours around the reserve and the opening up of the lighthouse from 10am to 5pm.

Mr Keen said yesterday's events were busier than the previous day with four to five thousand people participating in the celebrations.

"Helicopter rides are so busy bookings are full.

"There's people everywhere."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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