Geoff Harrow Death, Obituary – We are deeply saddened to learn of the demise of Cantabrian Geoff Harrow, who was one of our most devoted members and had been with us for many years.
Geoff, then 10 years old, became a member of Forest & Bird in 1936. In 1965, he discovered a surprising discovery that propelled him on a journey that would last the rest of his life to prevent the extinction of a unique species of seabird known as the tt or Hutton’s shearwater. Geoff was able to locate tt breeding burrows at the head of the Kwhai Valley after having a talk with a local of Kaikura named Ivan Hislop. This conversation lead to an expedition into the Kaikura hills.
He continued to make trips back to the mountain ranges over the subsequent years and discovered additional nesting locations in addition to hundreds of thousands of burrows. It became his mission in life to improve the protection of this critically endangered seabird, which can only be found in the Kaikura region. Geoff founded a charitable trust in 2008 with the intention of raising money for the establishment of a third colony of tuatara on the Kaikura peninsula. This endeavor was carried out in partnership with Whalewatch, Te Runanga o Kaikoura, and the Department of Conservation.
In 2015, when he was 88 years old, he stated that he intended to “retire gracefully so I can wallow blissfully in the memory of the 50 glorious years I spent with Hutton’s shearwaters.” Geoff was an incredible conservationist who spent his entire life immersed in the natural world. In 2007, when he was 81 years old, he was honored with an Old Blue award for his extraordinary commitment to conservation. This award was given to him in recognition of the crucial part he played in the preservation of the endemic Hutton’s shearwater. Geoff was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in 2017 when he was 91 years old for his efforts to the climbing and conservation communities spanning a period of seven decades.
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