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Owen Graham

Owen Graham

Owen Graham is the Otago/Southland Area Manager for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).  Prior to joining NZHPT in July 2007, Owen worked for the Department of Conservation in Otago as the conservancy supervisor for Historic Heritage and Recreation Planning.  Owen has a B.A. (Geography) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Tourism both from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand.  He is currently undertaking further research for his Master of Tourism focussed on Dunedin as a Heritage City.

As Otago Recreation Planner with DOC, Owen was project manager from 1994 through to 2006 for the re-development of the 150km former Otago Central branch railway in to New Zealand's first Rail Trail.  He was also the Executive Officer for the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust during the same period and raised funds to develop and promote the Rail Trail and fostered community engagement with the project.  During the development of the Rail Trail, Owen undertook or commissioned several visitor and community benefit surveys. Owen produced a book in 2004 about the Otago Central Rail Trail titled ‘From Steam Trains to Pedal Power’ and maintains his involvement with Rail Trail communities through his 10 year involvement as an organiser for the annual Rail Trail duathlon.

Paper: The Otago Central Rail Trail: Preservation of heritage sites through development of visitor use.

Abstract: In 1990 the railway line in to Central Otago was closed as the completion of the Clyde Dam (Think Big) project was reached. At the same time the need to retain the former Otago Central Railway line between Middlemarch and Clyde was being discussed, recreationists and others were promoting an overseas concept known as Rail Trails. Owen Graham was involved in the earliest investigations into the conversion of the railway line into a walking and cycling trail and worked on the Otago Central Rail Trail project from 1993 through to 2006. Between 1994 and February 2000 when the Otago Central Rail Trail was officially opened along its full 152km length, the Department of Conservation (DOC), with support from the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust, redeveloped the former railway corridor for use by walkers and mountain bikers. The 68 bridges, several over 100m in length, needed engineering checks and design modifications before they were re-decked, with handrails added for safety, and most of the 150km had to be re-surfaced to accommodate the new users on foot and by pedal power. Notably, the Rail Trail project not only created a new and much needed recreational facility, but it preserved most of the historic and heritage values of the former branch railway and has encouraged an appreciation of the heritage past in communities along the route. The Rail Trail is a unique recreational facility and provides a prime opportunity to appreciate a special part of New Zealand’s railway heritage, first hand. As well, the Rail Trail has become an important tourism attraction for Central Otago. All who ride or walk the Otago Central Rail Trail take away something different to treasure in their memories, be it discovering a tough and adventurous Otago history, marvelling at the engineering feats of those early pioneers or the wild, natural surroundings, then finding out they could bike further than they ever guessed, perhaps beating the challenge of a dusty head wind.

Sir Neil Cossons
Paul Davies
David Dolan
Wayne Johnson
Euan McQueen
Robert McWilliam
Duncan Waterson
David Beauchamp
Trevor Butler
Matthew Churchward
Andrew Cleland
Rachael Egerton
John Fitzmaurice
Don Fraser
John Gibson
Owen Graham
David Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Peter Holmes
Kevin Jones
Paul Mahoney
Tom Williamson
Peter Lowe
Peter Marquis-Kyle
Gavin McLean
Rob Merrifield
Owen Peake
Miles Pierce
John Porter
Nigel Ridgway
Tony Silke
Jim Staton
Richard Venus
Ian Walsh
Daniel Woo
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