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Weedbusters Winners

N e w s R e l e a s e

…working together to protect New Zealand
www.weedbusters.org.nz

03 November 2005
For immediate release


WEEDBUSTERS WINNERS


Rangitoto College, Karekare Landcare and the Motutapu Restoration Trust are among the big winners in the inaugural Auckland Regional Weedbusters Awards.

Weedbusters is an interagency weeds awareness programme supported by the Department of Conservation, Biosecurity New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Biodiversity New Zealand, NZ Landcare Trust, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, NZ Biosecurity Institute, NZ Plant Protection Society, and all unitary and regional councils in New Zealand.

Formed nationally two years ago, Weedbusters coordinates and adds value to existing weeds education, recognising people already carrying out the work and promoting new initiatives.

Auckland Weedbusters Coordinator Mike Harré said the new Weedbusters Awards “recognised the dedication and commitment of 'local heroes' who give their time to enhance the environment, and who help raise awareness of weed issues within the community.”

The Auckland regional winners were presented at a special ceremony this week by the Chair of the Auckland Regional Council Parks and Heritage Committee Sandra Coney.

Mr Harré said the quality of nominations was very high, and came from a wide selection of people and groups working within the environment.

“They ranged from individuals clearing weeds and rubbish from roadsides and adjacent private properties, to large groups such as the Motutapu and Motuihe Restoration Trusts, who carry out extensive weeding and replanting work on their respective islands,” Mr Harré said.

“Many of the nominees are actively involved in education and advocacy around weeds and their control,” he said.

The winners for 2006 in the Auckland region are:

Education: Rangitoto College JGI Environmental Group - for commitment to education, and raising the awareness of weed issues amongst students and the community

Public Land: Motutapu Restoration Trust - for commitment and dedication in weed management initiatives on public land

Private Land: Simon Grant and Stephen Cole - for commitment and dedication in weed management initiatives on private land

Excellence (Group): Karekare Landcare - for excellence in and commitment to weed management by a community group or organisation

Excellence (Individual): John MacKenzie - for excellence in and commitment to weed management by one or a few individuals

The winners receive an engraved wooden plaque, and $100 vouchers from Kings Plant Barn for plants or equipment to help them in their projects.

Auckland Regional Council provided the plaques, and the vouchers were funded by the Department of Conservation.

The Auckland winners of the awards will now go forward to the National Awards in July 2006.

More information about Weedbusters is available on the Internet at www.weedbusters.org.nz

END


FURTHER INFORMATION ON AWARD WINNERS


Education Award: Rangitoto College JGI Environmental Group

For clearing weeds and developing a native plant sanctuary for the school with the aim of:

- Promoting environmentally friendly practises in the school by improving the environment

- Providing the school with an outdoor education resource, and

- Promoting a sense of community in the school by encouraging all students to be involved in this project in a long-term way.

The group has been meeting every second Saturday to remove weeds (such as wild ginger and pampas grass), clear tracks and plant native trees. Over 80% of wild ginger has been removed from the sanctuary area. Students will remove pampas in the summer.

The Rangitoto College students have also carried out a variety of other projects from fundraising for the Mangere Refugee Centre to planting trees at the Long Bay Regional Park.


Public Land Award: Motutapu Restoration Trust

The Motutapu Restoration Trust has been carrying out restoration work on Motutapu Island since the early 1990s, removing weeds and growing/planting native trees.

Motutapu is a large island at 1550ha, with widespread weeds including rhamnus, moth plant, woolly nightshade and apple of Sodom. The Trust has a core group of dedicated weeders, and also runs regular volunteer days for the public throughout summer.

The Trust has taken a long-term view of weed control including:

- Development of seasonal plans and recording/monitoring of progress

- Use of direct control and non-chemical management techniques, as well as post control follow up and site restoration

- Work well with DOC and contractors to control infestations that are too large or difficult for volunteers


Private Land: Simon Grant and Steven Cole

Simon Grant and Steven Cole began this project with a successful advocacy for a large stand of privately owned native bush in Woodlands Park, Waitakere City, to be vested as a local reserve. They identified invasive species as the biggest threat to bush once it was protected as a reserve. Weeding and restoration initiatives are now in their third year.

Simon and Steven work with the community and Woodlands Park School to carry out weed control and replanting, raise awareness of the weed problem and change the “culture” of dumping of garden waste in the area.

Their vision for the future of this valley includes:

- a walkway system that runs from the hills to the sea

- an impetus to get weed control extended to private land through the whole valley.

- a sustainability centre with an organic garden can be established as a living classroom in the area next door to Woodlands Park School.


Excellence (Group): Karekare Landcare

The Karekare Landcare group was formed in January 2000 with a commitment to minimise the impact of introduced species. The group works on local council reserves and ARC (Auckland Regional Council) parkland controlling pest plants and cleaning up public areas around Karekare Beach on the West Coast of the Waitakere Ranges.

The Karekare Landcare group works closely with ARC Rangers and other ARC/WCC staff, as well as other local restoration goups .

They hold monthly Sunday morning work sessions with existing core members and other interested members of the local and wider community. Group projects include controlling tradescantia, sweet pea shrub, agapanthus and pampas grass and the planting/restoration of a waterfall area. The group produces regular articles in their local newspaper, and last year produced an excellent newsletter on weed issues.


Excellence (Individual): John MacKenzie

John MacKenzie has been carrying out conservation work on Rakino Island, in the Hauraki Gulf for several years. Rakino is a very important island as is a stepping stone between Motutapu, The Noises and several other Hauraki Gulf islands.

His work began with rat control, and has moved onto controlling weeds on the island including woolly nightshade, rhamnus, boxthorn, pampas and moth plant.

John works closely with both DOC and ARC, carrying out weed work in conjunction with their control programmes. He has organised several community days for weed control, and is keen to expand this with local residents. John is deeply committed to weed control, and rasing the awareness of residents and visitors about weed issues.

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