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Hughes backs tunnel fight - boots and all

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2013
Davey Hughes
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
KIWI BLOKE: MC Paul Stirling and Swazi Apparel Ltd founder, Davey Hughes, with his gumboots before he spoke at the Takitimu Primary School PTA fundraiser.

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The founder of New Zealand outdoor clothing brand Swazi, Davey Hughes, has added his voice to the fight against transport development in Fiordland.

Mr Hughes stopped in Southland, gumboots in tow, on a whirlwind visit to speak at a Takitimu Primary School PTA fundraising event last night, but also met with Save Fiordland committee member Colin Pemberton.

Like the Save Fiordland group, Mr Hughes opposes proposed Milford developments like the monorail and tunnel.

Separate proposals for an 11.3-kilometre bus tunnel connecting the Routeburn and Hollyford valleys, a $175 million monorail to Te Anau Downs from near the Mavora Lakes road and a toll road between Haast and Hollyford have stirred controversy across New Zealand.

Mr Hughes said most of his speech last night centred around the idea that travelling was about the journey, not the destination, and this could be applied to everything from hunting and back country adventures to environmental debates in areas like Fiordland.

"You know, it's a valuable area - it's a national park. Why would we want to put a road into it? Some of the tourists visit these areas for the fact it's a bit of an adventure to get to these places.

"[Otherwise] why not just stick a tunnel from Auckland down to Rotorua . . . and then Pouakai? And then next thing you know, bang, you're in Milford."

He had spent time in the Fiordland area, most recently kayaking along the Hollyford River, which he said was amazing. "It's a wild river, it's a wilderness river. It's one of the last wild rivers we have in the country. We don't know how lucky we are."

Mr Hughes said Hollyford could end up polluted, like other rivers had, if the proposed tunnel went ahead.

"How much are we prepared to pollute that river? The answer to that, in all New Zealand hearts, should be we aren't [prepared to pollute it]."

Save Fiordland chairwoman Daphne Taylor said it was wonderful to have the support of Davey Hughes behind the organisation's cause.

"We are communicating with [conservation minister] Nick Smith, so being able to add Davey Hughes' name to that communication will certainly help out."

Mr Hughes flies to Christchurch this morning to attend the South Island Agricultural Field Days.

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- The Southland Times

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