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Ewan McQueen

Euan McQueen

Euan McQueen is of Scots and Dunedin stock. The first two generations of his New Zealand family were engineers with Kincaid and McQueen, based in Dunedin.

The next two generations veered toward the social sciences, and Euan has a Masters degree in Geography, Victoria University, in Wellington. After excursions into high school teaching and the public service, he returned to Victoria as a staff member from 1963 to 1969. He then joined the then New Zealand Railways, where the next 19 years were spent in planning, instituting change, and nine years in senior management.

A short spell followed as CEO of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, a trust committed to the conservation and protection of open space on private land. Then followed eighteen years (so far) as a portfolio person in Wellington, with roles as diverse as Regional Councillor (eight years), independent commissioner for Resource Management Hearings (14 years), member of a regional medical ethics committee (five years), a community representative on the regional primary health care organisation, and a variety of consulting roles, many involving transport.

Behind all this lay the constant role of Chair of the Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand, 1991 to date, and a deep and long term interest in railway history, especially that of New Zealand. Alongside that general interest has been a special and growing commitment to the “small railways”: the industrial railways, often narrow gauge, that served coal mines, forestry, and factories in the days before large trucks, forklifts, and other modern means of handling products were available. This interest has now extended to the construction of an 80 metre 610mm gauge railway at a secret location in the Wairarapa, where it is used for handling firewood, pea straw, and other freight to be found in maintaining a large garden.

He has published two books about aspects of New Zealand railway history, and has written many articles about both railways and, in his university days, New Zealand economic and transport geography. He has been known to enter into public debate about proposed changes to transport policy, and has given numerous talks to a range of interest groups about all manner of topics, but usually with a transport theme.

Retirement lurks near a distant horizon. It will be occupied by fewer jobs, and more time on sorting papers and photographs that have been accumulated over the last half century or more, with the aim of leaving a reasonably coherent body of knowledge about railways, and other forms of transport, and their place in New Zealand’s development over that period.

Paper: Heritage and Modern Railway

Abstract: Railways have a long and rich history, beginning in the 17th century in an industrial role, and meeting public needs from the early 19th century. In New Zealand, a nation of relatively recent European settlement, a national railway network (of varying scale and length) has been operating since 1863.

The role of railways in New Zealand’s economic development is significant in providing reasonable access to and from the hinterlands of our many ports, and helping to open up large areas of land to timber extraction, farming, and mining, with the associated growth of towns and villages. Over time various isolated sections were linked to form a national network which reached its greatest extent in 1953.

With the help of statutory protection from longer haul competition that role remained generally stable until the 1960s, when improvements in roads and road transport introduced more serious competition, and competitive restrictions were relaxed. Over the next five decades the rate of change in the role of railways increased steadily, including in the 1980s when protection from competition was finally removed. Major governance and operating changes were introduced at that time, and the network moved rapidly to a generally arterial rather than a traditional more local role in the country’s transport.

One of the results of such major change has been the functional abandonment over a short period, of buildings and structures, and some types of locomotives and rolling stock. Some of these structures and stock had high heritage value, and one of the themes of this paper is to describe the community and institutional responses to the rapid creation of such a heritage inventory. The role of volunteers has been crucial, both at the national and local level. The goodwill from most of the various railway authorities over this period has been critically important, as has the availability of funding from many sources for a wide range of community based groups. The result has been the retention of much valuable railway heritage within the framework of an operating railway.



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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