A special honour has been awarded to Tasman’s former Mayor, Richard Kempthorne, on the other side of the world.
Richard Kempthorne travelled to Westerkwartier in the Netherlands this month, and to his surprise, was awarded the very first Abel Tasman medal of honour, from mayor Ard van der Tuuk.
Richard was honoured at a ceremony at the Dutch reformed church in Lutjegast on February 15, the birthplace of Abel Tasman. The Abel Tasman medal of honour was recently created by the Westerkwartier municipality council, and they decided to award the first medal to Richard, for his dedication at building a relationship between the Tasman District in New Zealand and the municipality of Westerkwartier, and maintaining the memory of Abel Tasman.
Ard van der Tuuk, Mayor of Westerkwartier, spoke to the crowd and thanked former Mayor Kempthorne for his effort in fostering the relationship between the two districts. According to Richard, the honour came as a surprise.
“The award was a complete surprise. We had no idea this was coming, even after Mayor Ard stared speaking,” Richard says. “In fact it was rather a shock when I suddenly realised there was an award being presented to me and Jane.”
Richard and his wife Jane had been in the United Kingdom visiting family and had planned a weekend to visit Mayor Ard van der Tuuk and other members of the Abel Tasman Museum that they had gotten to know over the years.
“It was intended as a visit to say hello to friends.”
Richard says that it’s important to recognise the significance that Abel Tasman was the first European explorer to visit New Zealand. Richard says that he believes it’s important to maintain a strong friendly relationship between the people of Westerkwartier and the town of Lutjegast, where Abel Tasman was born and the people of Tasman District.
“During the visit of the delegation from Westerkwartier, there was a very significant meeting with and reconciliation with our local Iwi, which was most appreciated by the Dutch delegation. It has been a pleasure to play my part in this exchange.”