Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 07 July 2021
The monument, a short walk from the North Egmont Visitor Centre on the Veronica Loop Track, commemorates the bravery of Arthur Hamilton Ambury, who died in June 1918 trying to save the life of William Gourlay. William Gourlay had slipped on ice while climbing, and the pair died when they fell over a bluff on the maunga when Arthur Ambury was attempting the rescue.
Unveiled on Good Friday, April 18, 1919, the stone obelisk was built of locally-sourced stone, set on a square base incorporating stone seats on each side. It includes a plaque noting Mr Ambury’s heroic effort, which earned him a posthumous Albert Medal, presented to his widow Annie a year later by then–Governor General Arthur Foljambe.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Senior Ranger Dave Rogers says the century-old monument was beginning to show signs of wear and tear after decades of being battered by the weather on the maunga.
Deteriorating mortar holding the stones in place was a particular issue, with some stones coming loose. The monument required reinforcement as part of the refurbishment, which saw the loose and crumbling mortar removed and replaced with a new product made to a recipe similar to what would have originally been applied in 1919.
DOC commissioned a team of masons from Stone Creations New Zealand to carry out the work, supported by members of the department’s Heritage and Visitor team.
“With the monument standing in alpine environment, we needed to time the work to ensure the optimum air temperature allowed the new mortar to dry properly,” Dave Rogers says.
The refurbishment project took three weeks and was managed to ensure visitor use of the track was not restricted.
“Our contractors have done a terrific job on the refurbishment, and it looks almost new,” Dave Rogers says.
Interpretation panels at the site, erected by the DOC in 2018, tell the story of Ambury’s attempted rescue of Gourlay and the need for visitors to prepare properly for adventures on the maunga.
“With the work undertaken, the monument will stand for another 100 years and serve as a continued reminder of the need for visitors to pay close attention to their preparation and planning when they enjoy the maunga – and remind them to make good decisions to ensure they get home safely from their visit,” Dave Rogers says.
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