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Fish and Game 'Gold Medal' recipients announced

Conservation Minister announces recipients of Fish & Game New Zealand's "Gold Medals"

Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced on World Wetlands Day 2003 the recipients of Fish and Game New Zealand's "Gold Medals". On February 2 over 20 events are being held around the country to mark the importance of wetlands and the United Nations International Year of Freshwater.

"It was appropriate to announce these Awards on World Wetlands Day," said

Mr Carter, "as the persons receiving these Awards have made a very important contribution to saving wetlands, conservation, and the successful management of sports fish and game birds."

"They have often gone unrecognised for their outstanding work in conservation and these Medals are a way that we can acknowledge their work and say thank you. These individuals are part of the game bird hunting and freshwater angling community which plays a very significant, and generally unrecognised, role in environmental management and protection in this country."

"I congratulate the winners and thank them for their example of service to the community."

This is the first time these Awards have been presented and Fish and Game New Zealand will make awards every two years. The recipients of the Fish and Game New Zealand Gold Medals for 2002/03 are:

· Mr David Lawrie (Auckland)

· Mr Steve Chapman (Auckland)

· Mr Reg Cull (Wellington)

· Dr John Kent (Christchurch)

David Lawrie - Auckland

· Councillor and Vice President of the Auckland Acclimatization Society for 10 years

· Chair of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council 1990 to 2001

· Chair of the National Wetlands Trust

· Chair of the Miranda Naturalists Trust

· Chair of the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board.

Pukekohe surveyor and dedicated ornithologist, David Lawrie, has for many years been a leader of Fish and Game New Zealand. Under his chairmanship the 13 Fish and Game Councils, the heirs of the restructured Acclimatisation Societies, have achieved a high level of cooperation and coordination as Fish and Game New Zealand. This has meant Fish and Game New Zealand has developed into a sophisticated and effective organisation and caused it to become a very powerful national advocate for the environment. Mr Lawrie is also a key figure in the establishment of the National Wetlands Trust. He has worked tirelessly to save endangered wetlands and enhance wetland habitat. He has made a very significant contribution to the Fish and Game movement.

Steve Chapman -Matatoki Thames

· Founding member of the Upper Piako Wetlands Management Association and commitee member for 10 years

· Initiated the creation of 15 new wetlands in 1996 beside the Piako River at Patetonga and motivated many volunteers

· Fish and Game ward representative for three years

· President Thames Fish and Game Club for six years

· Volunteer Fish and Game ranger

Mr Chapman has demonstrated passion, leadership and personal dedication to wetlands and ponds. He has spent thousands of hours voluntarily working in wetlands. He also has given a lot of time providing advice and support on the creation and maintenance ponds and wetlands. He has played a significant role in conservation in the Thames area promoting to local government the need for pest eradication and maintenance of water levels. He has become so expert in this field that he is used by DOC and Environment Waikato as a source of specialist advice.

Reginald Cull _- Foxton

· Wellington region Fish and Game Councillor for over 10 years

· Member of Wellington Acclimatisation Society

· Voluntary Ranger for 16 years

· Chair of Wellington Fish and Game Council for three years.

· Leader in wetlands development in the Foxton area

Foxton horticulturist, Mr Cull has given generously and unstintingly of his time and enthusiasm to ensure that others can enjoy both wetlands and game bird hunting. Mr Cull is the driving force behind the success of the Lake Omanu Hunter Training Programme which puts new game bird hunters through a three year training programme. He was instrumental in gaining DOC and Manawatu/Wanganui Regional Council support to enhance the Crown Mill Block of the Moutoa Reserve alongside the lower Manawatu River. This project involved the excavation of ponds and large scale wetlands planting through voluntary effort.

Dr John Kent - Christchurch

· Foundation member and secretary of Tauranga District Conservation Society

· Author of five books on freshwater fishing

· Angling magazine journalist

· Voluntary fish and game ranger

· Member Native Forest Action Council · Worked on the restoration of streams including the Cust Main drain.

· Expert Witness for Fish and Game on the Upper Mohaka River Water Conservation Order application

· High profile conservation activist.

Christchurch obstetrician, Dr Kent has a long history as a highly active, passionate champion of conservation. Among his many achievements include chairing a public meeting in Tauranga on the "Conservation of the Kaimais" which led to the cancellation of plans to clear native bush; presentations to Environment Canterbury and to the national media on the degradation of Canterbury waterways; years of correspondence with central and local Government on conservation issues, speaker on conservation at meetings of political parties, Chambers of Commerce and Federated Farmers and other influential bodies.

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