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Marian Hobbs Speech - Green Ribbon Awards, Te Papa

Hon. Marian Hobbs

5 June 2001 Speech Notes


Over the past month we have been asking people around the country some very important questions:

Is our environment as healthy as they would like? What are their priorities for action?

The strong level of interest in the Rio+10 programme indicates to me that many people do care. To a very large extent New Zealanders' cultural identity is intertwined with our landscape, our outdoors' lifestyle, and our perceptions of the quality of our environment. People want to be involved in thinking about our environment and its essential connection with our quality of life.

If you have not yet come across the Rio+10 programme, let me tell you a little about it. It has two key objectives.

The first - and most important - is getting people in the community thinking and talking about the state of our environment. The second is getting public input on the environment as a contribution to New Zealand’s report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development next year.

The Ministry for the Environment has now distributed more than 10,000 Rio+10 starter packs to organisations, families and schools around the country. We have close to 1,000 responses, with dozens more arriving every day. We have just over a month to go in this programme, so we hope to get many thousands more.

So I would urge you to encourage your families and the organisations you are associated with to contribute their views, either on the simple response form or in more detail if you prefer.

One of the very successful elements of the Rio+10 programme has been the art competition asking for children’s views on our environment. This evening I am pleased to announce the winners of that competition.

They are 11 year-old Lauren Rowland, of Stratford Primary School, Taranaki, with a stunning artwork entitled The Spirit of New Zealand, and 6 year-old Ben Pepeko, of Waipawa Primary School in Hawkes Bay, for his wool and watercolour picture called Plenty of Kina. Congratulations to both of them. Their pictures are on display in the NatureSpace Discovery Centre here at Te Papa, along with the other 650 or so entries.

Two things are really important to me as Minister for the Environment - getting some practical action to improve our environment and involving a wide range of people in the community in decision making about our environment. You could say that the Green Ribbon Awards are a classic example of what can be achieved in our communities when this happens.

Most of those nominated are very deeply involved in practical action - often quietly in their own community rather than making a great song and dance about it. Many are also very involved in the decision making process, either by engaging with local government in their planning and decision making or by getting involved at a national level. Sometimes both.

I can’t emphasise strongly enough that we need to see more of this if we are to have the quality of environment that most of us want and expect. It is that engagement in the life of our local community that will really make a difference on the ground - and in our water and air too.

The Green Ribbon Awards recognise outstanding efforts to sustain and improve our environment. I’m pleased to say that this year we received 117 nominations - more than twice as many as last year. Of course, that just made the judging process much harder, as there were so many great people and projects to consider.

Now to the actual award winners. I am going to start with a category that is dear to my heart -- the youth award for kids who care. This is the first year we have made a special award for young people. We received 15 nominations in this category, many of them from schools. The finalists for this award were:

- Hayden Luckman of Auckland, for protecting biodiversity and controlling introduced pests

- Jenna Hansen of Whangarei, for educating other students about marine reserves

- The students of Paparore School, which is in Awanui, Northland, for its planting programme and other environmental activities.

I have decided to give this award to the students of Paparore School because I am so impressed with what they have achieved. This small school of 69 students, with the help of parents and the community, has planted about 8000 trees so far and plans to add another 1000 this year. The students also do a road clean-up four times a year, and are strong supporters of waste reduction.

Pause to present award to school - represented by the principal John Windleburn and Martin Stevenson

Ten nominations were received for the “caring for our rural environment” award. The finalists were:

- The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society for 27 years of efforts to promote conservation of the Waitakere Ranges.

- Seresin Estate in Renwick, Marlborough, for environmental management of its 44 hectare vineyard and 10 hectare olive grove.

The winner of the award is Seresin Estate.

The Estate is organically managed. It uses a wide range of approaches to improve soil health and control pests and diseases. The winery waste water is used for irrigation, prunings are mulched, and olive and native plants are used on banks to minimise erosion. It has a worm farm to compost staff lunchroom waste and recycles or mulches all paper and cardboard waste.

Invite the Deputy Prime Minister to present this award

Seresin Estate is represented tonight by Mike and Trudy Trelore

“Caring for our urban environment” is the largest category, attracting 26 nominations.

The finalists were:

- The New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network, based in Christchurch, for sharing experiences and resources in native habitat restoration

- Wanaka Wastebusters from Central Otago, for recycling and waste reduction efforts.

The winner is the New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network. It was set up as a collaborative effort by Canterbury organisations and has developed links with 143 community groups around the country. The Network relies heavily on volunteers, with any financial resources being used for equipment and scientific advice.

Pause to present award

Network is represented by Mia Corbett and Eleanor Bissell

We received 16 nominations for the “business caring for the environment” award. The finalists were:

- Orion New Zealand Limited of Christchurch, for its Demand Side Management Project

- Phoenix Organics of Auckland, for its efforts to demonstrate that being “green’ is good for business.

- Eco Computers of Christchurch, for providing environmentally friendly computer services

The winner is Orion New Zealand. Orion owns and operates the electricity network between the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers in Canterbury. The project for which it wins this award has succeeded in limiting the growth of maximum demand for electricity by promoting energy efficiency to customers, including free home energy advisory services, as well as “time of use” pricing mechanisms that encourage off-peak use and other measures.

Pause for Deputy Prime Minister to present the award.

Orion is represented tonight by Roger Sutton and Tas Scott

Another large group of nominations in this year’s awards was raising awareness of environmental issues. It pulled in 24 nominations, quite a number of them extremely strong contenders for the award. The finalists were

- Dean Williams of Auckland for his environmental issues programme on 95bFM radio in 1998

- Kaipatiki Ecological Restoration Project, North Shore City, for its environmental education programmes

The winner is Dean Williams, who I’m told is known as “Green Dean”. Dean has given the subject of “the environment” an urgency, freshness and humour suited to the young urban Auckland population. His journalistic skills are applied to investigating the issues and asking the hard questions of all participants on his show, in order to present balanced and effective reporting. And he teaches his listeners that there are small and significant things individuals, communities, and businesses can do to sustain our environment.

Pause to present award to Dean Williams

Before we leave the raising awareness category, I want to make special mention of two very strong contenders:

The 0800 Smokey campaign run by Auckland Regional Council with support from a number of other organisations has already won an international communications award. This was a very successful partnership approach to public education about air quality and vehicle emissions.

The Waicare stream monitoring and action programme was developed by the Auckland Regional Council and four local authorities. It combines both public service and education. I’m pleased to say that the Ministry for the Environment has been involved in supporting both of these programmes.

Thirteen nominations were received for the “caring for our biodiversity” awards. There were two finalists in this category:

- Grove Mill Winery of Renwick, Marlborough, for its development of a natural spring-fed wetland planted to attract wildlife.

- Russell Langdon of Ashburton, for the development of the Hawthorn Wood Wild Fowl and Wetland Reserve.

The winner is Russell Langdon. He is a third-generation mid-Canterbury farmer who dedicates much of his land and time to creating habitats for birds. The wetland he has created is now used for a captive breeding programme for endangered waterfowl. Along the way Mr Langdon has acquired considerable knowledge about the breeding of exotic and native birds, including blue duck, brown teal, banded rail and kereru.

[Pause for Deputy Prime Minister present award to Russell Langdon]

Now for a very specialist category - the award for state of the environment reporting. This category was particularly aimed at local government and its role in monitoring, and informing the community, about the local environment. This award will be of particular interest to those of you who are attending the Information to Motivation conference here over the next two days. 13 nominations were received. The finalists were:

- Environment Waikato for its State of the Environment Report 1998

- Palmerston North City Council for “Our City’s Environment 2000”

And they are both going to get awards, for reports that were clear, easily read and understood, with a good mix of relevant graphs, tables, and photographs.

Present awards to both councils:

Environment Waikato represented by CEO Barry Harris

Palmerston North City Council represented by the Mayor Jill White and Rebecca Blyth

In conclusion, may I say how encouraging and inspiring it is to see what so many people and organisations are doing to pitch in and make a difference for our environment. Many of those nominated this year have already won regional or local awards. The very fact that you have been nominated as “outstanding” means that you are recognised by people in your community as doing something very special. So my very warmest congratulations to everyone who was nominated for the Green Ribbon Awards.


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