NZWAC appoints Dr Margaret Horsburgh as Auckland regional field advisor

On any given Tuesday, you can find Dr Margaret Horsburgh tramping along one of the many tracks and trails that criss-cross the Auckland region. Sundays are set aside for a walking group she's belonged to for over 30 years. And she and her husband have 'ticked off' all New Zealand's Great Walks and like to pick their holiday destinations according to where they can use their feet.

Given her love of walking and experience in the outdoors, it's perhaps no surprise that she has now been appointed as the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's newest regional field advisor, with responsibility for the Auckland region.

“I'm an avid tramper. I'm healthy, I'm full of energy. So when I saw the position being advertised, I applied,” she says.

She says the role of regional field advisor involves negotiating access, helping to resolve disputes and misunderstandings over access to the outdoors, and raising awareness of responsible behaviour and New Zealand's outdoor heritage.

Dr Horsburgh, who started in the role on 10 November, is a trained nurse and worked for several decades in both the health and tertiary education sectors. She has a PhD in education. In 2004, she gave up full-time work and became a member of the Auckland War Memorial Museum's trust board.

She says her experiences have prepared her for anything.

“I'm not afraid of taking on different challenges. This new role is different to my previous ones, but in some ways also a natural follow-on.”

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Mark Neeson says Dr Horsburgh's knowledge and enthusiasm will be invaluable to the Commission's work in Auckland.

“We're very happy that Margaret agreed to join us. It's great to have someone with her experience on board, who can help us build up our presence in Auckland,” Mr Neeson says.

Dr Horsburgh was a nurse in the 1960s, working in the intensive care unit at Greenlane Hospital in Epsom. In 1976, she moved into the tertiary education sector. She worked at both the Auckland University of Technology and at the University of Auckland and was also actively engaged in reform work aimed at improving the nursing sector.

“At the time, people were going into nursing without being sufficiently qualified or prepared. I was deeply involved in reforms that have since enabled nursing students to be properly trained before going into the workforce,” Dr Horsburgh says.

She has sat on a number of regional and national committees and was involved at national level in work targeted at bringing different areas of the medical profession closer together.

Dr Horsburgh says she is looking forward to this new chapter in her working life. A lot of the work will be about building relationships and the Commission's presence in the Auckland region.

“Over the years, I've become very knowledgeable about how Auckland works and I think this will be useful in my new role,” she says.

Dr Horsburgh is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, given for meritorious service to the Crown or the nation and to those who have become distinguished in their particular field of endeavour.