Kaikōura tragedy victim Cathye Haddock loved the outdoors

Catherine Margaret Haddock: educator and adventurer; b March 10, 1957; dated September 1, 2022.

A “queen dress up” who loved caving, loved the outdoors and a woman who impressed everyone she met.

Catherine Margaret Haddock, better known as Cathye, loved adventure and was an influential educator.

The 65-year-old from Lower Hutt was one of five members of the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand who drowned when their? charter boat tilted in Goldsmith.

Husband Peter Simpson, a former senior DOC watchman, said the… circumstances of her death were unusual, but he doesn’t want the tragedy to overshadow her lifelong achievement.

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She was born in Taumarunui to a father, Desmond, who worked as a ranger for the Forest Service. The family also spent time in Tūrangi​, National Park and Rangipo​.

Living in the shadow of Mt Ruapehu and in communities with significant Māori populations, it had two major influences on the young haddock.

The mountains and streams of the central North Island have a love for wandering, caving, sea kayaking, trekking in Nepal and cycling, all expressions of her passion for the outdoors.

Cathye Haddock and husband Peter Simpson hike in Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia.

Cathye Haddock/Things

Cathye Haddock and husband Peter Simpson hike in Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia.

All her life she has never been able to drive the Desert Road without stopping to take a photo of the volcanic mountains to send to her siblings Mike, Jennie and Suzi. It was her way of reminding them how lucky they were to grow up in such a beautiful environment and how important Mother Nature is.

An influential educator, she also had a deep respect for Māori culture and traditions, probably instilled in her from her time at a Māori girls’ college.

In later life she learned to reo, believing that it was a matter of respect for the Māori she worked with, that she could communicate in their language.

Ironically, given the way she died, she was also a well-known expert in outdoor education risk management.

With her passion for the outdoors, it was no surprise that her life partner was a ranger.

Spoonbills at Pāuatahanui by Cathye Haddock.  Haddock had recently become a member of the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand.

Cathye Haddock

Spoonbills at Pāuatahanui by Cathye Haddock. Haddock had recently become a member of the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand.

Haddock was working at an elementary school in Turangi when she met Simpson in the early 1980s.

In later life they would have a different picture of where they met, either in a snow cave or at a gathering of the Mountain Safety Councilbut their relationship was strong.

Haddock had a sense of adventure all her life, and it was never more apparent to Simpson than when she decided she wanted to go abroad.

“She wanted to cycle around the world, but only came to Nepal.”

Feeding a tūī in her Lower Hutt garden, photographed by Cathye Haddock.

Cathye Haddock

Feeding a tūī in her Lower Hutt garden, photographed by Cathye Haddock.

Simpson accompanied her in Nepal, trekking and meeting with Nepalese national park rangers who had done their training in New Zealand.

After returning home, Haddock held a number of positions, including six years as an instructor at Rotoiti Lodge Outdoor Education Center.

There she met her close friend and fellow adventurer Carol Shand, and her interest in risk management in outdoor education began.

After seeing many ‘near misses’, she decided this would be a good subject for an MA. The outdoor education industry grew rapidly and many in the industry feared that rules or guidelines would be too restrictive in an industry that often relied on volunteers.

She took an investigative approach to the issue, reviewing incidents at the lodge and becoming a respected expert on outdoor safety for school groups.

After getting married in 1994, Haddock and Simpson moved to Wellington in 1996 and later settled in Lower Hutt.

Peter Simpson and Cathye Haddock on a day trip in the Remutaka Forest Park.

Cathye Haddock

Peter Simpson and Cathye Haddock on a day trip in the Remutaka Forest Park.

She taught outdoor education at the Central Institute of Technology before taking on a leadership role for the Department of Education, where she was an expert in assessing recreational risks. Haddock wrote a manual for the Mountain Safety Council in response to the: Canyoning disaster in Mangatepopo in 2008.

One of her passions was increasing educational opportunities for Māori. In recent years she had worked with Ngāti Raukawa​ Waikato-Tainui​ and Ngāti Tūwharetoaon the central North Island. Her role was broad, ensuring that local iwi and the wider community could achieve their educational goals.

Based in Turangi, she continued to learn Māori. Miriama Prentice, director of Purerehua’s Early Learning Center, said her passion and mahi impressed everyone she worked with.

“She was well thought of by our Ariki/Chief Chief Sir Tumu Te Heuheu​ and Lady Susan, their immediate family and all who worked alongside her in his office, Te Kapua Whakapipi​.”

After turning 65 in March, Haddock retired and geared up with Simpson for more adventures.

“We bought a motorhome, she named it Base Camp, the mothership, and we would have many adventures. She drove it back from Auckland and that was that.”

Simpson is philosophical about the circumstances of her death and won’t comment until all the facts are known.

Rather than speculate, he is more interested in supporting family members and those involved in the accident, including the boat’s skipper.

Cycling the Timber Trail, Pureora.

Cathye Haddock

Cycling the Timber Trail, Pureora.

As Simpson looks back on her life, she notices how many people she knew and what she had an impact on.

Her passion for life and adventure was central to everything she did.

“The outside world was her church. She was not a religious person in the traditional sense, but the outdoors and outdoors were her religion.”

Simpson was a collector of vintage cars, and one of his favorite memories was watching her dress up in period costume and drive to the Art Deco Festival in Napier in a Morris Eight.

Cathye Haddock was an outdoor recreation and hazard expert.

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Cathye Haddock was an outdoor recreation and hazard expert.

Her death has put Haddock in the media, which has not been easy for the family.

Simpson indicates that it was also difficult for the groups she was involved with. Outdoor groups such as sea kayakers and the photographic group have been hit hard by the nature of her death and the publicity.

Shand remembers her boyfriend as the perfect person to be around in the event of a disaster. The couple were cycling on the Tibetan plateau with Simpson when he broke his femur.

Peter Simpson and Cathye Haddock motorcycling in Vietnam.

Cathuye Schelvis

Peter Simpson and Cathye Haddock motorcycling in Vietnam.

In the middle of nowhere, and with Simpson in need of expert medical attention, it would have been easy to panic. Haddock kept calm, negotiated with local authorities and insurers, and managed to fly him to Kathmandu.

After seeing Haddock at her best, Shand believes her boyfriend would take an investigative approach to the Kaikōura accident and make sure she didn’t jump to conclusions.

“She would very much like to wait for the various organizations to do their investigation and she would not comment until she knew what had happened.”

Sources: Peter Simpson, Carol Shand and Simon Woolf.

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