A landmark lighthouse at Baring Head will be lit up later in the year – in tribute to a man that changed Wellington's landscape forever.
More than 350 people gathered at Old St Paul's Cathedral on Monday to farewell prominent Wellington environmentalist and "giant of the conservation world" Colin Ryder.
As people in the conservation space knew, his legacy can be observed throughout the Wellington Region. Across the harbour is pest-free Mana Island, a groundbreaking project which in the late 1980s was the largest mouse eradication in the world. Ryder was due to guide a tour there this weekend.
Over 17 years of "bulldog determination" he formed the Taputeranga Marine Reserve charitable trust, opening as a protected area of land in 2008. And in 2010 he raised funds and purchased Baring Head on behalf of New Zealand – perhaps the project he was most proud of.
He's widely quoted as having raised $20 million for environmental causes across his lifetime, but his loved ones put the figure closer to $30m.
In delivering the eulogy, Ryder's colleague and friend Russell Underwood described him as a husband, father, brother, campaigner, advocate, and ultimately a force for good.
Born in Invercargill in 1946 as the oldest of five, Ryder made it to Otago University through "sheer determination", where he worked while studying a commerce degree through night school.
He moved to Wellington shortly after graduating where he found the great loves of his life: wife Dianne and his passion for the environment.
Dianne says it's only been since his death, on March 9 this year, that she's realised the full extent of his contribution to the Wellington landscape.
She and daughters Angela and Caroline, (and son David in Birmingham, UK) remember him not only for his tenacity but his sense of fun - a lover of barbecues, travel, craft beer and silly ties.
A lifetime member of the Port Nicholson miniature bottle club, Ryder's passion for beer and his community went so far that he had even made provisions to buy all his funeral attendees a drink after his funeral service.
Daughter Angela had travelled to the funeral from Melbourne and some of her fondest memories were of overseas trips she took over the years to catch up with her parents.
Ryder loved to travel, and one of his favourite things to do when overseas was seeking out the local characters and craft beer scene.
"He would sit at the bar and instantly look around to see who else to talk to," Angela said.
"He loved striking up conversations with strangers."
Dianne said his ability to connect with people was one of his greatest assets as a campaigner and advocate.
"That was his advantage, he knew different people and they knew him and his work ethic," she said.
"But he never overdid it, he was just quiet, plodded along."
Caroline equally described her father as a "plodder" - not always an upfront leader, but also "someone that pushed from behind", uplifting and encouraging others, such as the many young conservationists he mentored over the years.
Right to the end, Dianne said his greatest passion was for Baring Head. The Ryder family would appreciate donations made to Friends of Baring Headt for an upcoming project in Colin's name.
Dianne didn't know exactly where his passion for the environment had come from, but said it began in the mid 1980s.
Founder of Zealandia Jim Lynch met Colin Ryder at around this time, describing him as a "giant of the conservation world".
"He was a man with an extraordinary sense of public service, to go with a well-organised mind and a bulldog determination," Lynch said.
A "master at getting people together" Ryder joined Forrest and Bird in the 1980s, becoming a "relentless campaigner and fundraiser" that never took no for an answer.
It was not without obstacles: conservationists were often "abused and vilified", dismissed as "loony greenies" or even referred to as the "Eco-Taliban" as Ryder was when working on the Marine Reserve with Andrew Cutler for 17 years.
But opposition never deterred Ryder from the myriad of causes he felt passionate about, whether they were environmental, social, or finding the best barbecue.
Through his work at the Department of Corrections, Ryder joined the board of the Prison Chaplaincy Service. President Anne Dickinson said he good-naturedly declared himself to be the board's resident atheist, but fought for their right for chaplaincy service.
She said his love for the outdoors and "kaleidoscope" of friendships gave him a unique empathy for prisoners.
"He understood their deprivation better than anyone and he saw the prison chaplains as people who bring hope of a different future," she said.
"Colin absolutely understood community, he understood civil society ... he understood what a few passionate people could do if they got together for a common cause."
"He was a community builder, an enabler, but most importantly a volunteer – a status he guarded closely."
Ryder's volunteer status was indeed central to his character, with Lynch describing him as a "true conservationist - a genuine friend of the earth, tirelessly working for nature and never seeking payment."
"True conservation is marked by a desire to put things right and never give up, and each seemingly small success is quickly put aside as you move on to the next task."
"There's always one more to do."
"It might take some time for the seedlings emerge from his giant shadow, but his mark on the landscape of Wellington will never be erased and never forgotten."
As Colin Ryder knew, "there was always one more to do". To continue his legacy, donations can be made to Baring Head, where the lighthouse will soon shine out across the landscape he has altered.