Elisabeth Stuart-Jones was the secretary for the Friends of the Estuary group for eight years and made a significant contribution to the success of this organisation. She was affectionately given the title “mother of the estuary.” The group benefited from her strength as a local networker, communicator and thoughtful thinker. The Friends of the Estuary group initiated by Roger Lusby existed from 1990-2003.
Originally from Great Britain, Elisabeth and her husband settled on Clifton Hill, Sumner in the 1950’s. In recent years the couple have moved off the hill, to the flat in Redcliffs.
Elisabeth passed away in 2012
The Friends of the Estuary group, had various creative initiatives to raise funds, one such enterprise was the sale of an original design poster titled; Be a friend of the Estuary. Elisabeth outlines:
There was a dear old gentleman, who’s name is Ray Walsh and he lived in Sumner, and he was an artist, and I think it was probably Roger [Lusby] who suggested this would be a good idea because if we could get him to make a picture, you could sell the picture, then we made, turned it into a poster which was sold round people. I took one to the mayor at that time Vicki Buck, and for a long time it hung in her office. Arh, and it showed the estuary relative to the [Anglican] cathedral and the mountains, it showed a lot of birds, it showed users in the form of children, maori, pakeha children, paddling and playing with the sand, it showed a pair of trampers possibly walking way round, and no, ah, no boats, ha, no shag rock. And it was very popular so we then turned it into a Christmas card. And this is how we made the money to pay for the things we had to do, like hiring [rubbish] skips, and this sort of thing. The things we had to do for the estuary needed some amount of money not a lot.
There is a growing consensus that the effort that has been put in to cleaning up and improving the Avon-Heathcote estuary environment over recent decades has now gained sufficient momentum to ensure that this is likely to be the ongoing trend. Elisabeth puts her point of view:
Do you think that the tide has been turned as to the care of the estuary?
Oh I’m sure, quite sure. Yes. I think too many people are too aware now to let anything truly horrible, take place there. Development, developings the rudest word I know, but um I don’t think, I don’t think it could happen any more. And the very fact that we, the city has spent a huge amount of money putting in their pipeline to take the sewage works stuff out. They’re not going to let it go now and be spoilt by inappropriate activities.
You mentioned earlier that you thought of yourself as a conservationist…
Do you also think of yourself as being an environmentalist?
Oh I suppose yes, why not?