MacKay died in Greville Harbour on d'Urville Island last week. For those of us
who knew Don we can celebrate while we grieve, of a man who lived life to the
fullest. Soil scientist, sailor, mountaineer and mentor to those who followed
in his footsteps as Warden or Director of Outward Bound.
The Outward Bound School at Anakiwa where Don MacKay was warden from 1967 to 1974. Photo: Bob McKerrow
sister described him as a solitary, intelligent, family-loving man.
Alastair MacKay, 82, had spent the past 20-odd years living on his boat in
Tasman and the Marlborough Sounds, Margaret Harvey-Collins said.
was his own man," she said.
lived on his boat, he liked the solitary life, but he had a deep affection for
who had a caravan at his sister's Mount Pleasant property, last spoke to her
the week before he died. He had said he was waiting to catch the right winds to
sail round Cape Jackson on his boat.
been in poor health with poor balance and a "crumbly vertebrae", so
it was no surprise when she heard the news, Harvey-Collins said.
bay where he died was one of his favourite places.
used to infuriate me. I'd say to him, 'where are you going?' and he'd say,
'where does the wind blow'," she said.
could describe him as an aged, old hippy in a way."
had achieved much in his life. Among his accomplishments were working with Sir
Edmund Hillary to help construct the airstrip at Lukla in the Himalayas, Mrs
had a great love for classical music, books, mountaineering and the outdoors.
His mountaineering expeditions took him to Peru and the Himalayas.
worked for the prairie rehabilitation in Canada, as a warden at Outward Bound
in Anakiwa, and for the Department of Conservation in Kaikoura.
was last seen by witnesses cleaning the hull of his yacht, Nokomis, from a
dinghy in the early afternoon of Thursday, a police spokeswoman said.
later noticed the dinghy adrift with no-one on board.
witnesses went to secure the dinghy back to MacKay's yacht, they found his body
the History of NZ Mountain Guiding by the NZMGA it refers to Peter Farrell,
Lynn Crawford and Don MacKay as some of
the strongest climbers of the day and saw an opportunity to resurrect the guide
tradition, They recruited Harry and Mick as mentors and in 1966 Alpine
Instruction Ltd was born operating out of the Ball Hut. They ran climbing
instruction and guiding in summer and having rebuilt the ski tows on the Ball
Glacier offered ski instruction and ski touring trips in winter. Bruce
Jenkinson became their ‘chief’ guide and worked tirelessly alongside them.
the current Director of Outward Bound was the first to inform me of Don's death
MacKay passed away in Greville Harbour, D’Urville Island sometime around
Thursday 12 December. His body was found in the bay near his boat.His family tell me that there will be an informal
celebration of Don’s life at the Mapua Boat Club from 4pm onward on Thursday
the 19th of December.
the 2nd Warden of Outward Bound from 1967 to 1974. He has been
the longest serving of all Wardens or School Directors at the school. Don was a
quiet and humble man who for his last decade lived much of the time by himself
on his boat Nokomis throughout the Marlborough Sounds and Tasman bay. He was
frequently to be found on his boat moored just offshore from the school at
Don was a
mountaineer and soil scientist before coming to Outward Bound. He brought a
different perspective and style to Outward Bound New Zealand which until that
time had been staffed predominantly by ex servicemen. He introduced such things
as rock climbing (and developed the rock face), the half marathon and oversaw
the first female students at Outward Bound. Don
did away with the watch leader system, preferring instead that leadership
develop in watches more organically. According to Jon Mitchell, Don’s
contribution was subtle but very significant and the character of our programme
retains much of the shape that Don gave it (though Don never forgave me for
allowing the support launches to follow the cutters so closely!).
Please pass word of Don’s passing and memorial celebration to any of
your contacts that knew him. We will miss him.
Geoff Wyatt also sent me a note saying "Don was actually my 1st
climbing Instructor at Mt. Cook."
I was fortunate in walking in Don’s footsteps twice. First in 1968 in
the Cordillera Vilcabamba in the Peruvian Andes where Don had climbed in 1962
and made a detailed map which we used for the four months while trekking and
climbing. Then I became Director of Outward Bound at Anakiwa in 1983, nine
years after Don. He was a legendary school warden and he was always happy and
so willing to give me advice and share his philosophy on outdoor education. In
1985 I ran the Totaranui Totter ( now the Queen Charlotte Ultra marathon ) a
71km run from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, with Don and his brother-in-law Orme
Collins. Don was a tough and wiry runner and had remarkable stamina.
I hope there are others who knew Don better than me who would like to
add their knowledge on my blog.