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"The grand finale of Vanished World’s 20th anniversary celebrations was held at the Duntroon Hotel on Sunday, 28 February. On Sunday, sixty Vanished World members, volunteers and supporters gathered at the hotel for a celebratory lunch and to honour Otago University’s, Geology Department’s Paleontologist, Professor Ewan Fordyce with a life membership of the organisation. The citation recognised Ewan’s ‘foresight and professional enthusiasm to see the potential of Vanished World for the Duntroon and Tokarahi communities’.

Andrew Wilson spoke of Ewan’s early very methodical fossil searching expeditions in the district with haversack, hand lens and hammer and how his 4WD, with winch and trailer contained rock breaking equipment, a compressor and an old Holden engine bonnet became a regular sight in the district, and of his gaining the respect and friendship of the local farmers which led to the setting up of Vanished World in Duntroon.

Andrew talked of how well-regarded Ewan is by his peers, quoting from Drs Nick Mortimer and Hamish Campbell’s ‘Zealandia – Our Continent Revealed’ that ‘Ewan Fordyce is highly regarded as a vertebrate palaeontologist and world authority on fossil whales and their evolution, in the Waitaki Valley.’ ‘Zealandia has a remarkable record of marine vertebrates, primarily fossil whales (including dolphins) and to a less extent, sharks and other fish, and of birds (mainly penguinoids) thanks to the research efforts of Ewan Fordyce.’

Dr Helen Brookes, the first Chairman of Vanished World and a Vanished World life member presented the framed Life Membership certificate to Ewan. And as we know, behind every great man, there is a greater woman, and Marilyn Fordyce’s support was acknowledged with flowers and sincere thanks for sharing her man with our district.

After lunch, Vanished World’s early days were recalled by Dr Helen Brookes. She talked of the collaboration with Ewan and his team at the Geology Department, the farming community and Vanished World and the effort involved in developing the nineteen Vanished World Trail sites throughout the Waitaki and of course the setting up and funding of the Centre in Duntroon. Waitaki District Mayor, Gary Kircher, offered Vanished World his congratulations and encouragement as the organisation transitions into the Geopark and Jacqui Dean, MP for Waitaki, spoke on the valuable role volunteers play in communities.

The final event on the programme was Ewan Fordyce cutting the cake which was a tasty and richly iced masterpiece of heart urchins, scallop shells and ‘Waipatia Maerawhenua’. This was followed by an enthusiastic singing of ‘For he’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.

This was the final of several events to celebrate Vanished World’s 20th Anniversary. Late last year, Vanished World people had visited the Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre in Timaru and more recently had spent a day in Dunedin visiting the Otago Museum and the University’s Geology Museum."

Taken from the Duntroon Digger, March edition 2021,

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