Who you are, where did you spend your childhood?
I am Neil John Callaghan, born in Waihi 7th March 1938. My family moved to Hamilton in 1942 as builders were required for the war effort – building CAC. munitions factories in Hamilton for the American Forces in the South Pacific.
How has the outdoors influenced or shaped your life?
The outdoors experience has been the driving force in my life. If I hadn’t grown into the building industry, I would have chosen farming!
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
A life changing experience at 15 years old was an extended family trip with cousins, who were farmers, to the new Whakapapa Ski Field on Mt.Ruapehu. The Saturday was a white out; completely clouded out & wet – I was not impressed! Sunday was just the opposite! Brilliant sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and a good snow cover. It opened my eyes to a new world that hasn’t changed in almost 70 years. Life changing to say the least. On my return to Hamilton I immediately joined the just formed Christiania Ski Club who were preparing to build a Ski Lodge in the Iwikau Ski Village.
Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of? Why?
After a lifetime in the building industry the planning, construction and completion of a difficult project as a complete package can only be achieved through detailed planning, teamwork and leadership. This was achieved in the completion of Christiania’s Tukino Lodge to the delight and satisfaction of all concerned.
What inspires you?
The ability of voluntary people with a common cause to achieve the almost impossible with the right direction, support and encouragement is inspiring to say the least.
Where’s your happy place?
The Tukino Combined Club Skifield on the Eastern Slopes of Ruapehu is a special place I always look forward to returning to! Not only the spectacular topography but the special people who operate this unique facility (mainly voluntary) make the place what it is!
What do you hope for the future of our young people in the outdoors?
I would like to think that all young people are given the opportunity to experience outdoor activities at an early age!