QSO, conservationist. Died aged 61.

New Zealand has lost a foremost advocate for the conservation of our national emblem, the kiwi.

Keith Robert Chapple, a former president of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, also fought for years to have some of the water taken for the Tongariro Power Scheme diverted back into the Whanganui and Whakapapa Rivers.

This champion of natural New Zealand was born in Surrey in 1944. When he was in the British Army stationed in Hong Kong he met and married a New Zealander.

After his military service, Chapple moved with his young family to New Zealand and fell in love with the country.

He found his piece of paradise in the King Country, at Kakahi near Taumarunui on the banks of the Whakapapa River. His job as the boiler attendant at Taumarunui Hospital left him spare time to take up causes.

The depleted flows in the Whakapapa caused by the Tongariro scheme irked Chapple and his neighbour, war artist Peter McIntyre. With much community support, Chapple led a successful 25-year campaign to return flows to the Whakapapa and Whanganui Rivers, including the longest Environment Court case in New Zealand's history.

Some flows were finally restored this year, not long before his death.

The decline of the kiwi, whose calls Chapple could hear in the nearby Tongariro Forest, prompted his campaign to save New Zealand's national emblem.

That campaign, run while he was national president of Forest and Bird, convinced the Government to establish five kiwi sanctuaries.

Chapple also fought to save the central North Island tussocklands from the ravages of a growing population of wild horses.

More recently, he masterminded the establishment of a whio (blue duck) trust with the Department of Conservation and Genesis Energy. In the past year this trust established projects to save the whio in the Whanganui and Taranaki areas.