Saturday, March 7, 2009

Beverley Price memorial, Oakley Creek

One of the members of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society spotted a reprinted article (originally from the Sunday Star Times) in the "Auckland Grammar Old Girls' Newsletter" recently, and sent a copy over to me. It was about Beverley Joy Price, a member of the Alpine Sports Club who was one of those who forged through the weeds and long grasses that grow verdantly beside the winding Oakley Creek in the 1970s and pushed for the establishment of a public walkway there.

Oakley Creek boasts Auckland City's only natural waterfall, a drawcard for folk from far and near. It isn't Niagara, we know, or even the mighty flows in the Waitakere Ranges, but we are rather fond of it all the same.

According to the article, Beverley Price along with a couple of friends formed an all-woman alpine team, tramping and taking on Mt. Cook, Mt. Ruapehu and Mt. Tasman in the 1940s and 1950s. She knew Sir Edmund Hillary, meeting him in a late 1940s summer in a hut on Mt. Tasman. "He was a rather gangling young man," according to her friends, "very good fun." On an expedition Beverley went on to the Himalayas, however, four climbers were killed in an avalanche.

She had attended Auckland Girls Grammar, become a teacher and head of languages at Westlake High School, and took early retirement after 30 years in the profession. At the end of her first year of retirement, in November 1979, Beverley and her mother gave each other Christmas presents (Beverley never married, and lived with her mother to the end of her life). The presents -- were tickets for an Antarctic flight on Air New Zealand TE901, 28 November 1979.

Beverley and her mother perished in the Erebus disaster, along with 235 other passengers and 20 crew.

On 2 July 1994, Auckland City Council installed a memorial plaque for Beverley Price, alongside one of the Oakley Creek walkway bridges. It reads:

"The Avondale Community Board dedicates this section of walkway in memory of Beverley Joy Price whose research, foresight, and active campaigning provided the foundation for the development of a walkway route along Oakley Creek. An accomplished mountaineer, tramper, teacher and member of the former Walkways Committee. Beverley died in the Air New Zealand DC10 plane crash on Mount Erebus in Antarctica on 28 November 1979."

Members of the Alpine Sports Club attended the dedication.


  1. I am a student of Unitec which is located right next to Oakley Creek. I am starting an assignment in which we are mapping a chosen site. It may be interesting to research more about Oakley creek and Beverley Joy Price.


  2. Go for it, Paul. Talk to the Friends of Oakley Creek -- and you'll also find more on the stream here on the blog.

  3. thanks for that Timespanner,
    I definitely or hopefully be able to attend a meeting with Friends of Oakley when one comes up or when they have their greenfinger days. Will check their site for dates.

    Also doing a bit of research/read about Beverley Joy Price.


  4. Some more information on the Himalayan expedition that was mentioned, on which four climbers were killed. Beverley Price was one of five New Zealanders on an all-women Indo-New Zealand expedition to climb Mt Hardeol in 1974. Four women died in a huge avalanche - two Indian and two New Zealanders. The two New Zealanders were Jill Tremain and Vicki Thompson. Jill Tremain was already well-known because she and Graeme Dingle did a winter traverse of the Southern Alps in 1972 - the subject of their book 'Two Against the Alps'.

  5. That was interesting and sobering information to learn that Jill Tremain had died in 74. In 72 her expedition with Graeme Dingle was in the news for weeks it seemed. I was at high school at the time.
    Simon Overall, Paeroa.