Former QLDC mayor Jim Boult recognised in King's Birthday Honours

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 03, 2024

A former district mayor, a long-time volunteer firefighter and a snow sports enthusiast who have each made a mark on Southern Lakes' communities with decades of service are among the 176 Kiwis to have made the King's Birthday Honours list.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says they reflect the best of New Zealand.

"New Zealand is a better country for the contribution that each of these people has made over many years.

“On behalf of all Kiwis, I thank them for their service and congratulate them all on their well-deserved honours”

Jim Boult, of Queenstown

Has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to local government, tourism and the community

Former Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult says being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit is a reflection of the people he has worked with.

Mr Boult was first elected as mayor in 2016, and then re-elected in 2019.

During his tenure he led a series of projects to bolster the district, including an initiative to provide affordable homes, a bed tax as a solution to the infrastructural requirements of supporting more than three million visitors to Queenstown and Wānaka per annum, the $2 bus transport scheme, implementation of a government working party for freedom camping, and other key infrastructure and transport changes.

During the Covid-19 pandemic he led implementation of funding and support for migrants in the district who found themselves without homes or work, establishment of the Queenstown Greater Needs fund for the medical needs of migrants, the Economic Recovery and District Diversification taskforces, and worked with central government on initiating shovel-ready projects and establishing the Major Events fund.

He chaired the Otago Lifelines Programme for natural disaster readiness and the Metro Mayors section of local government.

Mr Boult is patron of the Child Cancer Foundation, Whakatipu Wildlife Trust, Whakatipu Rowing Club, and continues as Chair of the Canterbury Museum Working Party.

To celebrate, he says he'll be going out for breakfast on Monday morning.

"My family will be delighted, particularly my wife, who has been a wonderful support for me. She has a lot to do with getting the award in the first place."

Reflecting on the different reasons for his nomination, he says being patron of the Child Cancer Foundation is probably the most important, and he's been involved with the organisation for 35 years.

"I was motivated to get involved after the horrific death of a child of close friends.

"My job as patron is to help them raise the $6 million every year that they need to raise to look after the 180 children every year in New Zealand who are diagnosed with cancer."

Speaking of his time as mayor during the Covid-19 pandemic, he says that "Queenstown was hit with a bombshell", but he believes the district made the very best that it could of very bad circumstances.

"In particular, I'm delighted with the leadership provided and the community support for our migrant worker community."

Mr Boult was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015.

Mary Lee, of Wānaka

Mary Lee in action on her skis in Iceland (Image: Supplied).

Has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to snow sports and tourism

Mary Lee and her husband John Lee were instrumental in developing ski areas at Cardona - Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, and Snow Park.

From 1987 to 2008, Mrs Lee managed and developed Snow Farm, New Zealand's only dedicated cross-country ski field, continuing now in voluntary roles.

Her efforts have provided employment opportunities and attracted national and international ski tourists, with trails providing off season business.

The Lees sold Snow Farm in 2008 and formed the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust to ensure it remains a recreational area in perpetuity.

They developed the Merino Muster race at the Snow Farm in 1995, which in 2014 was included in the Worldloppet international race series.

She remains the New Zealand representative for the Worldloppet Ski Federation, and director and secretary of the Merino Muster.

She teaches cross country skiing on a voluntary basis.

She set up Wānaka Nordic Ski Club’s Youth Development Group in 1999, to help young people compete in overseas competitions.

She founded Snow Girls, a cross country skiing and social network for women of all ages.

In 2022 she was the first person to receive the NZQA Snowsports Instructor Award – Cross Country Skiing Level 4.

Mrs Lee volunteers with SeniorNet, and the Cardrona Heritage Trust, and she has held founding and executive roles with the New Zealand Cross Country Ski Association and Biathlon New Zealand.

She says she will spend Monday celebrating - with her family in the morning and her neighbours group in the evening.

Since finding out the news she has been bursting to tell people.

Mrs Lee says the ski field at Cardrona is an "amazing legacy".

"Having this award rekindles so many amazing memories of fun that we had - and the challenges - but you forget about the challenges.

"You remember all the people that worked with us to make it happen...no one is an island and does things by themselves, there's a whole team that worked with us."

Mrs Lee retired more than a decade ago, although she jokes she's completed more work as a volunteer at Snow Farm than she did in her years of earning an income.

She says the youth work she does teaching young people to cross country ski is "terribly rewarding", watching them grow in confidence and achieve in their age groups.

"One little girl who wouldn't even say boo to anyone and...because of her skiing got into the airforce in the UK."

Her husband, John Lee, also received the award in 2016, and she says it gives her family a "complete legacy".

Ralph Fegan, of Wānaka

Has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Ralph Fegan volunteered with the Franz Josef Volunteer Fire Brigade for 22 years before joining the Wānaka Brigade, where he has served 17 years.

Ralph Fegan has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

He was the chief fire officer in Franz Josef from 1977 to 1996, initiating the formation of a Rural Fire Party, and has been secretary since 2013 at the Wānaka Brigade.

He has been involved with the United Fire Brigade Association as President of the Central Otago Fire Brigades Sub-Association from 2021 to 2023 and became senior vice president of the Otago/Southland Gold Star Association in 2023.

Mr Fegan contributed to the tourism industry from the 1970s and was chairman of Lake Wānaka Tourism for two years, the Westland Promotion Board for three years, and West Coast Tourism Development and the West Coast Tourism Council for four years each respectively.

He was the director of the South Island Promotion Association from 1987 to 1994.

He has volunteered with a range of other organisations including the New Zealand Fighter Pilots’ Foundation Trust, Wānaka Airport, Upper Clutha RSA, Wānaka A&P Show and Food for Love.

Mr Fegan was a Westland District councillor from 1989 to 1995 and a civil defence controller for Franz Josef from 1979 to 1995.

Speaking with Crux this week, Mr Fegan shared stories of an extraordinary life, responding to a range of different callouts during his four decades as a firefighter and having been wined and dined by NASA at their rocket launch site in Wallops Island, United States of America.

He says receiving the honour is a humbling experience.

"There's thousands of bloody people out there doing the same sort of sh** that I do...I don't really know why I've been picked out."

He is thankful to his wife Lynne Fegan and his children for their support of him in "all the things" he's been involved in, saying without their help things would have been very difficult.

He says he was involved in the beginnings of the Franz Josef fire brigade - before that, there was none to service the area.

"The closest one was Fox Glacier, and they were damn near an hour away, so anything would be burnt to the ground (by the time they arrived)...and with the tourism industry, it was getting busier."

Mr Fegan recalls one of his most memorable callouts, last year in Wānaka, when ambulances were held up and the firefighters had to step in and respond to a young woman who was "grey" and "gone" lying with her face down on the floor.

He says the woman "died" multiple times before reaching Dunedin Hospital and, all the while, he was speaking with her Christchurch-based parents over the phone. The woman recovered after a few weeks in the hospital, which Mr Fegan reckons is a miracle. 

Mr Fegan is in touch with these parents still, who came to Wānaka and visited the Fire Brigade personally to say thanks.

He's also responded to 18 fatal aviation crashes during his time of service, and says the deaths are always tough to deal with.

Mr Fegan's responsible for getting NASA to Wānaka, where they've launched multiple mega-balloons from the local airport, reflecting that when he first got the call from the United States, he thought it was a joke.

Since then, he's visited some of their big American operations centres, where he's personally greeted and thanked by NASA chief executive Bill Nelson. He's also presented him with a photograph of a rocket launching in space.

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