Passing of Ray Walter

Author: Ian AlexanderDate: 23rd October 2023Header Image Credit: Jonathan MowerFeatured Image Credit: Martin Sanders

It is with sadness we are informing you of the passing of Ray Walter. He served as lighthouse keeper, ranger, supervisor of the Island Conservation Project, committee member of SoTM, and a leader of many of the infrastructure projects including, most recently, the lighthouse museum.


Ray arrived as lighthouse keeper in 1980 at a time when the automation of lighthouses in NZ was already in progress, and by 1984 he was out of a job. However the commencement of the Island Conservation Project provided an opportunity to work as a supervisor for Lands and Survey, (later Department of Conservation) as a Ranger and he took over management of the Project in 1985. His legacy can be seen in the 283,000 trees planted on the island, resulting in the rich diversity of forest which now covers much of Tiritiri Matangi, and wildlife introduced including many endangered bird species whose unique calls today resound across the island, especially at dawn.


Ray, together with his wife, Barbara, were DOC rangers for 26 years, until they both retired from the day to day operation of the island in 2006. During this time boardwalks were built, tracks constructed across the island, as well as other important infrastructure. Another significant activity was their introduction of guided walks for planting volunteers and visitors which commenced in the late 1980’s and continues as a major attraction for both local and international visitors.


With such a contribution over so many years, a single book would never be enough to cover Ray’s significant contribution to Tiritiri Matangi island. The words used to describe our open sanctuary – “a conservation success story of international significance “ is also a fitting tribute to Ray Walter’s involvement in the development of the island.


Our condolences to Barbara and his family at this sad time as we all remember an extraordinary man whose incredible achievements will forever be part of the Tiritiri Matangi conservation project story.


Ian Alexander


Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc

Photo credits:

Shaun Dunning
Simon Fordham
Geoff Beales
Neil Davies
Jonathan Mower
Martin Sanders
Neil Mitchell
Ian Higgins
Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Archives