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Young Kiwi Conservationists Protecting Our Future

Young Kiwi Conservationists Protecting Our Future

YHA Young Conservationist Award Winners Announced

A Year 10 pupil at Central Hawkes Bay College, Abby Bonis, has been awarded the top individual prize in the 2002 YHA Young Conservationist Awards, sponsored by YHA New Zealand in partnership with the Department of Conservation.

Fifteen-year-old Abby’s ongoing research project tracked the population, size and preferred habitat of cat’s eyes (or pupu) within and outside the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve in central Hawkes Bay.

Abby found that, although the size and habitat of the cat’s eyes was similar inside and outside the reserve, there were significantly more shellfish within the reserve.

“Because of the ‘no-take’ policy in the reserve there are lots more cat’s eyes there.”

Abby visited her randomly selected plotting sites throughout the autumn and summer months to collect her data and is keen to carry on monitoring the shellfish in 2003 to see if the population increase continues.

Already her research has garnered her a number of awards including first place in the Living World section of the Central Hawkes Bay and Hawkes Bay Science Fairs, and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s Award for a project best showing the sustainability of a natural resource.

Her prize is a trip for two to the YHA Australia Grampians Eco-Hostel in Halls Gap, Victoria.

Kamo Intermediate School won the Primary Group Category with their project entitled ‘Islands of Life’. Students at the school created a natural and endemic environment at school with the aim of attracting native fauna back to the school grounds. Students then embarked on a publicity campaign to educate the local community about how fitting cats’ collars with three bells limited the numbers of birds they could catch.

The winners of the Secondary Group Category were the Rat Trappers from Motueka High School. Students assisted the local Friends of Flora volunteers to reduce the number of predators in the Kahurangi National Park. The park is home to some of the last remaining whio, or blue ducks, as well as kaka, kakariki, weka and other native birds. The students made more than 150 tunnel traps which they set, checked and reset regularly. They then counted weighed and recorded all rats and stoats caught by the team.

Julia Wells from Roseneath received a special prize in the individual category of the awards for her community involvement project to protect little blue penguins in Baleen Bay and Little Karaka Bay on the Wellington Harbour. Julia created a public awareness campaign which lead to building and installing nesting boxes so the penguins don’t have to cross the road to get home.

Department of Conservation Director-General Hugh Logan says the awards recognise the important contribution that young people make to conservation.

“Young people are our conservation future and it’s exciting to see some of the great projects they’re involved in around the country,” said Logan.

Anyone interested in entering the 2003 awards can go online at or Entry forms will be available from YHA or Department of Conservation offices from the middle of the year.

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