UPDATE 2017-08-07: to fix broken links and amend as have since found/purchased the DVD at JB Hifi NZ
Graeme Hill played “Higher Trails”, by John Hanlon today and will be speaking to him tomorrow (Sun 30 Aug) on Radio Live. I associate it with the New Zealand documentary “Off the Edge” which was released in 1976. That means I was only ten but the tune, lyrics and epic visuals of hang gliders spiralling around the Southern Alps were permanently etched in my memory.
It still looks amazing especially when you consider it was shot on film (no mini-digital video then) with limited resources/support. I’d love to buy this I have since got this on DVD and it has aged well. It was a crime John was completely overlooked when the APRA top 100 New Zealand songs was compiled.
In my head
When I first visited Aoraki Mt Cook, on the Adventure South 2004 cycle trip, “Higher Trails” was the soundtrack running in my head. I can’t remember but suspect it inspired this photo.
Damn the Dam
Another song of John’s became an anthem for one of New Zealand’s biggest conservation battles which spanned the 60s and early 70s. “Damn the Dam” [cried the fantail] was adopted by the campaign against the Manapouri Hydro Dam scheme. The government planned a dam to raise the level of Lake Manapouri (below) 30 metres, merging it with nearby Lake Te Anau, to provide power to an aluminium smelter.
That would have flooded a vast area of pristine bush including this fantails home (below). In the end Norm Kirk’s Labour Government imposed lake level restrictions and a modified scheme saving much of this habitat. Although I was a child at the time it’s impossible to visit Manapouri (I've been lucky to hike, cycle and do several tourist boat trips there) and without remembering “Damn the Dam” and the work of the conservationist that saved it.
I found “Damn the Dam” on YouTube, although this isn’t the original video. Sadly it appears we may need John Hanlon to write a new conservation anthem, thanks to Gerry Brownlee's discussions to possibly allow more mining within conservation areas.