Title: Exotic Intruders

Author: Joan Druett

Publication details: Heinemann, 1983, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Joan Druett

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Exotic Intruders

Donne and the New Zealand tourist paradise

page 98

Donne and the New Zealand tourist paradise

Up until about 1900 the idea of promoting New Zealand as a tourist resort did not exist. Thomas Edward Donne, a senior official in charge of the 'tourist traffic' branch of the Railways, had a keen interest in angling and deerstalking and was a personal friend of Sir Joseph Ward. With this Minister's endorsement, Donne was free to indulge a fancy and set about catering for a dream—that New Zealand could be a tourist paradise.

The outcome of his drive and foresight was the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts, which was established on the first of February 1901. Donne, naturally, was appointed the Head of this new body. He was so highly regarded that at the same time he was appointed Under-Secretary of the Department of Industries and Commerce, which was formed simultaneously. This gave him the opportunity to travel overseas and meet other sportsmen and make contacts for the introduction of new game animals.

Donne immediately put into effect plans for the Hot Lakes and Southern Alpine regions, building hotels and importing game and fish. He started the model pa at Whakarewarewa, and commenced the electrification of the little town of Rotorua— reaching back into the past as well as forward into the future. Under his visionary and practical guidance, the Department went from strength to strength, establishing the worldwide reputation that New Zealand has as a holiday resort today.

Black and white photograph of Thomas Edward Donne.
page 99