William Walter Smith was born in Scotland. In his youth he worked as a gardener in several English country houses. His family emigrated and farmed near Ashburton, where William later worked on the Mt Peel and Albury pastoral stations.
Kennedy's Bush was the first Summit Road reserve established by Henry Ell in 1906. Ell was a promoter of the Port Hills Walkway and a campaigner for preservation of scenery and protection of native birds.
The establishment of scenic reserves along highways was to return great benefit for the travelling public once the motor car became more widely available in the 1950s and 1960s. Morere Springs Scenic Reserve is a well-known example.
In his speech introducing the Scenery Preservation Bill, Premier Seddon was nostalgic about his first views of the Buller Gorge in the 1870s. Scenic reserves were established in the Upper and Lower Buller Gorge in 1907, and these have been added to since that time.
Premier Richard Seddon outlined his vision for 'God's own country' in 1903 as he steered the Scenery Preservation Act through Parliament. This act was an important landmark in preserving New Zealand's natural and historic heritage.