ORANA WILDLIFE Park staff are mourning the loss of a volunteer who put in more than 20,000 hours of service and educated thousands of visitors about New Zealand's native wildlife.
Shirley man Sam Roberts, who first volunteered at the park in 1988, died last Monday, aged 71.
Mr Roberts retired as a volunteer officially five years ago, but he and his wife, Isobel, continued to offer their services from time to time.
Orana chief executive Lynn Anderson said Mr Roberts was a remarkable man.
"He made an incredible contribution to New Zealand native conservation in the face of a very debilitating illness," she said.
Mr Roberts developed Parkinson's disease about 13 years ago, turning his attention from providing guided tours to developing high quality native advocacy displays.
"Because of the significant educational nature of his creations, park management set aside an unused room for him to develop his projects and named the building Sam's Place in his honour," Ms Anderson said.
"Sam completed a number of different interpretive displays, all of which helped educate visitors on the plight of some of New Zealand's most charismatic native species, including kakapo, kiwi, tuatara and kea.
"Sam was an inspiration to many and had a profound effect on our visitors, prompting many to personally write to him after their visit," she said.
"He will be sadly missed."
Tara Atkinson, the park's head keeper of native fauna, said Mr Roberts was determined that native species ought to be Orana's primary focus.
He helped create the park's walk-through kea aviary and was influential in its design, she said.
Mr Roberts was publicly acknowledged for his service to native wildlife with a city council Civic Award and a Fendalton-Waimairi Community Board Award.
He is survived by his wife, Isobel, two sons and a daughter, and six grandchildren.