Ines Stäger's Tribute

On behalf of the Canterbury/Aoraki Conservation Board


Greetings to you all
Anne, Carla, Elke, Keith and extended family.

I am Ines Stäger and on behalf of the Canterbury/Aoraki Conservation Board I would like to pay tribute to Gottlieb. We have gathered here unexpectedly, to honour a mentor and friend and express sympathy to his family. Gottlieb has been a member of the Canterbury/Aoraki Conservation Board for 6 years and would have finished his term on the board at the end of this month. Gottlieb stood out for many reasons, some of which I will touch on.

He was prompt, punctual and organised. To highlight an example, as soon as he knew that he was unable to attend his last board meeting, he prepared a farewell speech and circulated it to board members well ahead of the meeting. In it he mentioned that one of his prime reasons for serving on the board was to highlight the environmental issues that the high country was facing.

That is what he did, and he did so with great passion at every opportunity and at every level. In European tradition, he was not afraid to speak out even though at times his views were far from popular given the circumstances. He could forsee that treasured landscapes and ecosystems were at risk, and through lack of protection, future generations would not be able to enjoy what we take for granted right now. He has been advocating for appropriate unencumbered access to conservation land for a very long time, as well as for protection of natural quiet and night sky. He wanted to ensure that the mountains could be experienced at their best at all times by all who would make the effort to get there.

He never failed to deliver, he was as reliable as a Swiss watch. We always knew when he was back at base, because that was when he responded to endless board related requests. And frequently he brought up additional issues as a response to his observations in the field.

Think globally, act locally is what Gottlieb did as a matter of fact. He had a tremendous overview of global issues, but also gave attention to the detail. Receeding glaciers and climate change were on his mind and he tackled and debated these complex environmental issues. He spoke from a position of knowledge or if he didn’t already know he researched topics and argued logically.

At the same time he cared for fragile environments such as the "Playing Fields" on the Hooker Valley side of Ball Pass. He explained to visitors the specialness of the place and made sure that people did not blunder aimlessly through the fragile areas. He was protective and determined that it would stay special for future generations to enjoy. If a component of this fragile area was out of place he would notice. Here comes a plea to everyone, the least we can do is to ensure that these fragile places are protected for future generations. Gottlieb is and will be watching. The "Playing Fields" is just one many places in the mountains that Gottlieb knew inside out. For those who were lucky enough to spend time in the mountains with him were privileged to see many other facets of his engaging personality.

Gottlieb’s contributions to board matters were always well founded, while he was frequently critical on conservation management issues, he backed this up in a pro-active manner and proposed practical solutions. One example is the concept of taking personal waste back to base. Gottlieb convinced the board that "Poo Pots" were not only desirable, but necessary if we were to retain the "clean green" image of our mountain lands. The pots are now part of the management system for the park.

In his written farewell speech he pointed to unfinished business and the Board will endeavour to continue where Gottlieb has left off. While he is no longer here to nudge us along, undoubtedly he will be keeping both eyes on us from his beloved mountains.

Thank you Anne, Carla, Elke & Keith for sharing Gottlieb with us and allowing him to be an influence in our actions as well. He was proud of you all.

Haere ra e hoa
Haere atu ra

Farewell, rest in peace
Adieu Gottlieb


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