|Evening Post, 15 March 1939|
|The first day of the Westport service on the 15th of March 1939... In the foreground De Havilland 89A Dragon Rapide ZK-AGT while sister ship ZK-AEC departs|
The NZ Herald gave good coverage of the speeches. The inauguration of the Cook Strait Airways service to Westport was an important event in the history of the Buller district, which has suffered in the past through its partial isolation from larger centres. The main outlets from Westport have been through the Buller Gorge to Nelson and Picton, the Lewis Pass to Christchurch, and the Wcstport Greymouth coastal road to connect with the rail service to Christchurch through the Otira tunnel. To carry on to the North Island necessitated almost 24 hours' travelling, which will now be reduced to two and a-half hours. It will now be possible to go from Westport to Auckland by air in six hours. Mention was made at the inauguration ceremony at the new aerodrome near Carter's Beach by the Mayor of Westport, Mr. J. Kilkenny, of the great part which the pioneers in the coaching and paddle steamer days had played in the development of the Buller district. He mentioned Messrs. Newman Brothers, the introducers of the first motor service which operated on the Nelson-Reefton route through the Buller Gorge. Mr. Jack Newman, a son of one of the founders of Messrs. Newman Brothers, and a director of Cook Strait Airways, was present at the ceremony. Memories of the old shipping days at Westport were recalled by Mr. H. C. Cock, chairman of directors of Cook Strait Airways, and managing director of the Anchor Shipping Company, who reviewed the steps made in modern transport on the West Coast of the South Island, culminating in the connection by air of Greymouth and Westport with the air service to the North Island. Special mention was made of the visit of Mr. N. S. Falla, chairman of directors of Union Airways and the Union Steam Ship Company, who, as a native of Westport, was returning to his home town as the guest of Cook Strait Airways.
Meanwhile the Westport News section of the Press covered the morning tea. A number of women, with their husbands, were the guests of the Cook Strait Airways Company at the aerodrome on the South Beach, when the two aeroplanes arrived from Nelson to commence the daily air service. Morning tea was served under the supervision of Mrs W. Smith, the tables being decorated by Miss Bailie with carnations and maiden-hair fern. The weather was brilliantly fine, and after the official ceremony, through the courtesy of the directors of the company, the women were given complimentary rides over the town and Buller river. Among those present was Mrs S. Falla, sen., who welcomed her son, Mr N. S. Falla, chairman of directors of Union Airways, and the Union Steam Ship Company, who also arrived by the official aeroplane.
The Monday to Saturday service left Wellington at 7.35am and after a brief stop at Nelson arrived at Westport at 9.30am before continuing on to Greymouth. The return service left Greymouth at 11.15 arriving at Westport at 11.45am before continuing on to reach Nelson at 12.45pm and Wellington at 2.15pm. A feature of the service was that there were often passengers between Greymouth and Westport. At this stage the Coast road was rather torturous and the railway line between Greymouth and Westport had not been completed.
|De Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide ZK-AGT over Westport in 1939|