Albie has always had a passion for the environment. As a student he kept snakes in his bedroom in a hall of residence at the university where he was studying botany and zoology, and enjoying many field trips around Southern Africa, where he grew up.
As a teacher he helped organise the formation of an adventure group, taking groups of schoolboys into the African bush, teaching them much about the environment and themselves along the way.
He taught Science for some years, but was needed in the Maths Department, and as computers arrived in schools, became the computing teacher. Great memories of Albie and a bunch of school kids biking over the mighty Takaka Hill and back to raise money for Golden Bay High School's first computer. (No driving along behind in the car as a backup, he biked along with them).
On early retirement he has had more time to pursue many of his interests and passions, and an extraordinary list of achievements in the area of conservation:
- Installing a pelton wheel (micro hydro scheme) to power some of the lights in our house.
- Making a large solar hot water collector, so that almost all of our water is heated by the sun, and helping various friends do the same.
- Belonging to a biofuels group starting up in Golden Bay. They have a large parabolic dish, which Albie helped line with mirrors and then used his electronic wizardry to make it track the sun. It produces steam, which can be used in the biofuel process, saving heaps of electricity.
- Setting up a small business recycling old computers - keeping the system very simple, and selling them, at times to 80 plus year olds! He hates to see anything thrown away.
- Winning the Individual section of the Tasman District Council 2008 Environment Awards as a result of the carpooling website he set up for Golden Bay. Other remote areas hearing about the website wanted one too, so Albie has set up two more and expects more to follow as the word gets about. And all done voluntarily.
- Setting up a web-based ‘buy sell swap’ system for Golden Bay which is proving very popular.
- Reviving an old washing machine whose electronic controls were dead and hooking it up to an old computer to control it.
- Building a four wheel bike from two old bikes from the tip, and adding an electric motor from an old mobility scooter. Work is still in progress, but it will be powered by solar panels as well as pedal-powered.
- Organising and running workshops for U3A on alternative energy and as part of the TDC eco-homes project giving a tour of our property.
- Belonging to a U3A Climate Change study group, involving much reading, discussion and anguish for the future of our planet.
- Belonging to a number of volunteer organisations, including Friends of Cobb which helps maintain a stat trapline of 40 traps along the Asbestos Cottage Track. Helping with planting trees and track development on 50 hectares alongside the Rameka Track.
- Assisting with winter feeding of the kakapo in the wild during two fortnightly stints on Codfish Island.
This is a man who is always very willing to share knowledge and ideas with others, and always keen to learn something new.
He and Felicity have for the past 30 years set aside about 30 hectares of their property to regenerate back to native bush, and set traps for stoats and rats. They have planted some small blocks of timber trees for the future and when asked why plant oak trees which would not be milled in their lifetime, explain that they are planting for the future, and for the present joy of watching trees grow. It is no surprise that they also grow their own vegetables. Their home is an old house that was due to be demolished in Collingwood. They bought it, cut it in half, moved it to the present site and nailed it back together again-with a new roof, verandah and foundations, a worthy recycling effort.
In Albie’s words “I know that one or two people can't personally make much of a difference to the damage we as a species are doing to the planet. However, I also know that that's not a reason to do nothing. Now that I'm retired, I'm able to spend time trying out some of my own alternative energy and recycling ideas. And if in doing so, I can get a few people to start to think in a different way about how we treat our precious home world, then that's a bonus.”