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Record Entries for YHA Young Conservationist Award

Record Entries for YHA Young Conservationist Awards

2004 Entries Involve Over 300 Students, Representing Schools from Otahuhu to Rangiora

Christchurch, September 2004 – The 2004 YHA Young Conservationist Awards attracted a record number of entries, with 28 projects representing over 300 students aged 8-17, from Otahuhu to Rangiora.

Lincoln High School’s Stephanie Owens claimed top honours in the 2004 Awards, sponsored by YHA New Zealand in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC). The programme was first established in 1970 and recognises the efforts of young New Zealanders who are taking action on behalf of their local environment.

Stephanie, 17, earned the Harakeke Award by identifying the neglect of Lincoln Township’s historic reserve and founding the “Lincoln Liffey Brigade” to drive its transformation.

Stephanie enlisted fellow students and community members, representing all age groups, to help restore the Liffey as a valued part of the town centre. She began by organising a working day to clear trailer loads of branches, leaves and rubbish, unblocking the stagnating stream.

“Through personally working to clean the Liffey up and through being able to see so visibly the dramatic difference that they have helped to make, the people involved have come to feel a sense of ownership of the Liffey, as well as a sense of achievement,” says Stephanie.

Lincoln Liffey will once again be a safe and desirable place for residents to relax, have picnics, go walking and take their children. Its stream is a significant tributary to Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).

Stephanie’s goals included building awareness, as well as generating long-term interest in the area—and both were accomplished. Stephanie also feels that a positive example is being set for Lincoln youth, who are learning and accepting the importance of looking after this natural asset.

In 2005, Stephanie will travel to Australia’s Grampians YHA Eco Hostel as part of her YHA Young Conservationist Harakeke prize.

“Supporting the conservation work of young people is part of YHA’s commitment to the natural environment and sustainability,” says YHA New Zealand Chair Clive Croy. “YHA and DOC are impressed with the quality of the entries, which represent New Zealand’s conservation future—one clearly filled with promise and innovation.”

Two projects earned the Tuatara (Group Secondary) Award—the Blumine Island Project and the Mahoe Reserve Revegetation Project. The Wheke (Group Primary/Intermediate) Award went to Ngatimoti School’s Room Three, which endeavoured to halve the school’s waste, with an outlook to enhancing their local stream.

All three schools will receive a $1,000 prize to support the continuation of their conservation projects.

Verran Primary School student Luke Archer, 8, took the Tui (Individual Primary/Intermediate) Award. Luke’s research focused on the survival of skinks and other lizards in the wild. The Year Four student will receive a New Zealand conservation trip, sponsored by YHA and DOC, as the Tui Award prize. DOC Director-General, Hugh Logan is delighted with the initiative that these young individuals have taken to help improve conservation efforts in their area. "Young people are our future conservationists and these awards give us a chance to celebrate the exciting and worthwhile work they do." DOC's partnership with YHA New Zealand was especially important for the Department's role in engaging communities in conservation, he said. Anyone interested in entering the 2005 YHA Young Conservationist Awards can contact YHA New Zealand at Freephone 0800 278 299.

AWARDS PRESENTATION AND DISPLAY On 5 October 2004, the YHA Young Conservationist Awards winners will be recognised at Te Papa, National Museum of New Zealand. For information on the opening of this special display and presentation, or to arrange an interview with an Award recipient, please contact: Sara Webb Communications Manager 03 353 9169

About YHA As a not-for-profit organisation, YHA New Zealand focuses on a commitment to education through travel and environmental conservation.

Its mission is to provide overseas and New Zealand members with a wide range of experiences through Hostels, travel and activities, in order to enable them to increase their awareness of the world and its people, and contribute to their educational development.

YHA was founded in New Zealand in 1932, developing over seven decades into a unique network of 64 hostels nationwide with around 26,000 New Zealand members. YHA has been built by the efforts of volunteers who raised funds, personally constructed and managed many of the facilities. In 2003/04 the network recorded 600,000 guest overnights, around 87 percent from international travellers.

YHA New Zealand is a full member of the International Youth Hostels Federation, which is represented by the Hostelling International (HI) brand. There are over 4,200 YHA/HI Hostels in 80 countries, which enable Members to connect with the natural environment, local culture and like-minded travellers.

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