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Biodiversity Accolades announced

Hon Sandra Lee
Minister of Conservation

News Release

Biodiversity Accolades announced

Wednesday 29 March 2000

The Minister of Conservation Hon Sandra Lee has announced the presentation of Biodiversity Accolades to 12 people for their outstanding and sustained contributions towards conserving our unique plants and animals and the places where they live.

"We cannot award or even start to list all of the people involved in this process but
we have wanted to recognise some who have made special efforts over
a long period of time, " Ms Lee said.

"They have often been 'on the outer', speaking out as prophets in the
wilderness, prepared to take criticisms on the chin and often were seen to be
difficult because of their commitment to the greater cause of conservation," she said.

"While the people being recognised with Biodiversity Accolades are all still active, we have not included people on the awards list who are currently national
office holders in the major organisations."

The citations for the recipients read as follows:

1. Nganeko Minhinnick (Manukau, Ngati Te Ata)

Nganeko was the Claimant in the Manukau Claim to the Waitangi Tribunal that in 1985 set a new benchmark for the place of her people in their homeland and the protection of the natural resources of the Manukau Harbour.

As a founding director of the Huakina Development Trust, a member of the Auckland Regional Authority and Auckland Conservation Board, Nganeko made pioneering advances in water quality management and created a real tangata whenua presence in resource management decision making.

She has worked tirelessly for the exercise and understanding of kaitiakitanga in environmental management and for the restoration of the Manukau Harbour and natural areas in the Ngati Te Ata rohe.

2. Jim Holdaway (Auckland)

As one of New Zealand’s most active conservationists, Jim has lead a dedicated public life marked by unremitting practical concern for the environment. He’s now our most active octogenarian!

A founding member of the Auckland Regional Authority, Jim was a strong proponent of Auckland’s regional park network. For around 40 years he has been closely involved in administration of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. He was integral in getting the Tiritiri Matangi Island restoration project off the ground, and more recently, has played a pivotal role in the Motutapu Island restoration project.

3. Gerry McSweeney (Arthur’s Pass)

Gerry has put “his money where his mouth is” as one of New Zealand’s leading ecotourism operators with his ventures at Cora Lyn and Lake Moeraki. At these special places he shares stories about New Zealand’s biodiversity with “children of all ages” – even those in their nineties!

As a distinguished grassland ecologist and former conservation director of Forest and Bird, Gerry has been at the political heart of conservation in New Zealand. Through the Nature Heritage Fund he has supported the protection of around 120,000 hectares of native forests in the last ten years.

4. Gorden Stephenson (Putararu)

Gorden has had a lifetime of involvement in conservation and has been instrumental in the greening of the agriculture sector and Federated Farmers. He has been extensively involved with the local community and school groups in practical conservation projects, and has been a staunch advocate for wetland restoration.

Gorden has played critical roles in Forest and Bird, was a former Chair of the Waikato Conservation Board, co-founded the Queen Elizabeth National II Trust, and more recently, established the Waikato Farm Environment Awards. People who know Gorden will remember his characteristic enthusiasm for leaping up to make his point at meetings.

5. Bill Ballantine (Auckland)

One of New Zealand’s leading marine biologists, Bill has been tireless champion of marine conservation, and more particularly of marine reserves of a means of conserving marine biodiversity. He’s filled and entertained packed halls the length of the country and – in part the result of this persistent advocacy – we now have 16 marine reserves.

Bill was instrumental in establishing the Leigh Marine Reserve, near Warkworth, which has enabled many 1000’s of Aucklanders and visitors from around New Zealand, to see first hand the benefits of marine reserves.

6. Carmen Kirkwood (Ngaruawahia)

Carmen is Ngai Tai and Ngati Tama Oho. A long-time director of the Huakina Development Trust, Carmen spearheaded the engagement of northern Tainui with resource management processes to protect and restore the waters of the Waikato and Manukau. She also made a significant contribution to the Manukau Claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Carmen served on the Waikato Conservation Board. She has been a practical and dedicated worker towards restoring environmental quality in the Waikato area.

7. Alan Mark (Dunedin)

Alan is one of New Zealand’s foremost conservation authorities. As Professor of Botany at Otago University he has been a leading educator in his field.

As a conservation advocate, there are very few conservation campaigns he hasn’t played a part in.

As an Otago man, he has worked tirelessly with the Otago Conservation Board and as Chairman of the Guardians of Lake Manapouri.

8. Les Hutchins (Queenstown)

Les was involved in ecotourism long before the term became in vogue, and has been a dedicated advocate for biodiversity conservation in the tourism industry.

Back in the 70’s he was one of the core “Save Manapouri” activists and has maintained his concern and interest as a Guardian of the Lake. As a committed member of the New Zealand Conservation Authority he has played a critical role in drawing the tourism industry and conservation groups closer together.

9. Ian Atkinson (Wellington)

Ian has contributed to biodiversity conservation through his distinguished career as a terrestrial ecologist. In particular, he has worked closely with the science community raising awareness of ecological issues and the need for taking a coordinated approach to restoration projects.

Ian has had a special interest in the Chatham Islands and served as a member of the Chatham Islands Conservation Board for nine years. He has also contributed significantly to the Kakapo Recovery Project.

10. Stephen King (Waipoua)

Stephen will always be remembered for sitting in a giant totara tree in the Pureora Forest. As Jim Bolger remarked, “even more trees at Pureora would have been saved if Stephen had climbed that tree earlier!”

Today Stephen is still saving trees – the remaining Kauri forests of Northland and the forests of the central North Island through his tireless work with the Native Forests Restoration Trust.

11. Wade Doak (Whangarei)

Wade is an underwater marine biological explorer extraordineer. As a professional diver and photographer and filmmaker, he has brought the hidden realm of the biological richness in our seas vividly to the attention of New Zealanders.

Though his columns and books he has shared his passion of the marine world and raised awareness of marine conservation issues both within New Zealand and overseas.

12. John Morton (Auckland)

Emeritus Professor of Zoology at Auckland University and leading educator, John has influenced the lives of many people here today as a teacher and mentor. He has made a substantial contribution in the areas of marine ecology, conservation and general biology.

John has given a lifetime service to conservation not only through his professional life, but also commitment to voluntary organisations, including a distinguished life member of Forest and Bird. He served on both the Auckland Regional Authority and was chair of the Nature Conservation Council.


The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy has four main goals. The primary goal is to maintain and restore a full range of New Zealand's habitats and ecosystems, along with populations of all native species across their natural ranges. Another goal is to maintain the genetic resources of our important introduced species, which provide much of the foundation for our economy. It also aims to actively protect the biodiversity interests of iwi and hapu, while enhancing community guardianship of our indigenous species and where they live, and to promote coordinated community action to bring species extinction to a halt.

For a copy of the strategy, see, contact DOC Science Publications, PO Box 10420, Wellington or email

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