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Skink Research Earns Award for Eight Year Old

Skink Research Earns Award for Auckland Student
Eight-Year-Old Wins Eco Trip with Gecko Garden

Auckland, September 2004 – Verran Primary School’s Luke Archer has claimed top honours for his age group in the 2004 YHA Young Conservationist Awards, sponsored by YHA New Zealand in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Verran Primary School’s Luke Archer has claimed top honours for his age group in the 2004 YHA Young Conservationist Awards.

This annual Awards programme was established in 1970 and recognises the efforts of young New Zealanders who are taking action on behalf of their local environment.

Eight-year-old Luke researched the survival needs of skinks and other lizards in the wild. He then constructed a skink and gecko garden with the Verran Primary School grounds. His presentation to classmates and teachers explained the importance of these lizards and the steps that can be taken to protect them.

“I’ve learnt that it’s not good to catch skinks, because their family won’t like it,” Luke says. “When you hold and touch them, you have salt on your skin, and this is not good for them. You need a lizard licence to keep them, because you need to be able to really care for them well.”

In 2005, the Year Four student will receive a New Zealand conservation trip, sponsored by YHA and DOC.

“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 $1,000 to support the continuation of their conservation projects.

Lincoln High School student Stephanie Owens, 17, took the Harakeke (Individual Secondary) Award. Stephanie addressed the neglect of Lincoln Township’s historic reserve by recruiting classmates and community members to form the Lincoln Liffey Brigade. The group, which Stephanie founded and organised, has worked together for the long-term improvement of the reserve, to restore it as a safe and desirable place for residents to relax, have picnics and go for walks with their children. Her prize trip includes flights, for Stephanie and a parent, to Melbourne, and accommodation at Australia’s Grampians YHA Eco Hostel, plus an abseiling adventure and experience with Conservation Volunteers of Australia. 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 or visit

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.

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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