Henry George Ell, a Christchurch MP (1899 – 1919), social reformer and visionary, was largely responsible for the formation and protection of the Summit Road and its associated open spaces. His grandson, John Jameson QSM, is one of the founder trustees, and a member of the Summit Road Society he established in 1948, 14 years after Harry Ell died.
Former trust Chairman Maurice McGregor said Harry Ell’s foresight and the Society’s dedicated implementation of that vision had gifted Christchurch residents and visitors a priceless legacy.
One regular visitor from the USA made the first donation to the new Trust – $1000 and a promise of a further $2000. Professor Al Fagerstrom of Ann Arbor, Michigan, lived in Christchurch each summer from 1994 – 2000. “I soon learned of the beauties to be enjoyed by looking both toward Christchurch and toward Lyttelton Harbour from the Summit Road. Since this early discovery, I repeatedly drove all segments of the road and hiked many of the excellent tracks especially the one from the Sign of the Takahe to the Sign of the Kiwi and those near Godley Head,” Professor Fagerstrom said.
“The Summit Road and the hiking tracks so close to the city are an enormous asset for the people of Christchurch as well as for its visitors. I know of no comparable road, views and tracks in the U.S.A. maintained by the joint enterprise of Park Rangers and volunteers. In both my drives and hikes I benefited in a big way from these endeavours. With a modest gift to the Trust Fund I merely wish to say, thank you very much!”
The Harry Ell Summit Road Memorial Trust now makes it easier for others to say thank you very much too.
“The Summit Road Society set up the charitable trust to enhance, preserve and protect the nature, beauty and open character of the Port Hills. We named the Trust to honour Harry Ell, because without him we never would have had the benefit of the Summit Road, its chain of public reserves and facilities. Harry Ell died in 1934 and the Trust seeks to continue his work on the Port Hills,” Mr McGregor said.
The Trust’s purposes are to raise funds to enable the Summit Road Society to purchase and otherwise acquire land on the Port Hills for conservation purposes, to fund the on-going maintenance of tracks, vegetation and facilities.
The founding trustees were Mr McGregor NZ 1990 Comm. Medal, QSM (Chairman), John Jameson QSM, Gordon Kirk QSM, Paul Loughton (Treasurer) and Graham Densem.
Mr McGregor said the Summit Road Society seeks to minimise residential encroachment and intruding structures on the Port Hills.
“Our volunteer work parties put in more than 250 hours a month, working alongside City Council Park Rangers maintaining tracks and facilities, bush remnants and tussock grasslands. We have promoted the concept of a Port Hills Regional Park and we have purchased 150 hectares of land at Ohinetahi in Governors Bay. Our Society has covenanted and will maintain this land for public conservation and recreation purposes.”
Mr McGregor said the Summit Road Society had an urgent need for more money.
“In the face of present-day developments the current urgent need is for funds to maintain, improve and develop our existing operation. We need better means of accumulating and legally protecting land for conservation and public purposes, as it becomes available,” Mr McGregor said. He hopes that people will consider making gifts for such purposes, either during their lifetime or by bequests, or the allocation of their residual estate. The Harry Ell Summit Road Memorial Trust will give them the inspiration to also leave a legacy for future generations.
For more information:
Harry Ell Summit Road Memorial Trust
PO Box 17-719 Christchurch