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Conservation champions an inspiration to us all

4 August 2005

Conservation champions an inspiration to us all

Conserving mistletoes, replanting streamsides, restoring an island’s ecology, planting out a park, and bringing conservation into a school curriculum, are among the activities rewarded by the 2005 Wellington Conservation Awards, announced today by acting Conservation Minister Hon. Rick Barker.

Awarded annually by the Department of Conservation and the Wellington Conservation Board, they recognise sustained voluntary community involvement in conservation.

This year’s recipients are Christopher Hopkins of Wainuiomata and Trevor Thompson of Mt Bruce for a long term commitment to conserving rare and threatened mistletoe in the Tararua Forest Park and other sites in the Wellington region;

Colin Ryder of Johnsonville for his involvement in a wide range of conservation projects, including the ecological restoration of Mana Island;

David Stuart of Masterton for his dedication to the maintenance of huts in the Tararua Forest Park; the Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust for its outstanding long-term commitment to the restoration of the Kaiwharawhara Stream;

Graham and Letitia Montford of Levin for organising the annual Tu Kakariki community/school planting day at Levin’s Kowhai Park, and Greytown School, for building a concern for the environment and conservation into its teaching and operations.

Merit awards were presented to Ron Freeston of Avalon, for restoring the wetland reserve at the head of the Pauatahanui Inlet for the past 21 years;

Ray Smith of Eastbourne, for his long term involvement in many environmental projects in the Eastbourne/Hutt Valley area;

Keep Otaki Beautiful, for transforming an area of wasteland between State Highway one and the railway line in Otaki into an attractive and peaceful reserve for the public;

Ian Weeds of Paraparaumu, for his volunteer work at Waikanae’s Nga Manu Reserve where he became a dedicated “granddad” to 350 juvenile tuatara being prepared for translocation to offshore islands, and the Manuka Reserve Restoration Group, for restoring the 1.8 hectare Manuka Reserve in Landsdowne, north Masterton, from a bare paddock into a wetland reserve full of native plants.

Mr Barker said the conservation champions honoured in these and previous Wellington Conservation Awards efforts over more than a decade were making a noticeable difference, not only in their own little patch of New Zealand, but to the wider conservation effort.

“Through inspiring others to take part in their conservation projects they are enhancing conservation knowledge and skills, widening the scope of what can be achieved to protect and restore our natural and historic heritage for future generations to enjoy.”

It was heartening to see so many people involved in such a diverse range of outstanding volunteer projects, nurtured by local and regional councils, the Department of Conservation and many other organisations, Mr Barker said.

“The message is getting through that we all have a guardianship role to look after our special places as well as the animals and plants that live there.”

This is highlighted in this year’s Conservation Week theme Everything is connected.

“Nature is a complex interaction between the variety of species and the ecosystems which support them, and in which people play an important part. We need to be aware that our actions with and within the natural environment have consequences, and that the choices we make can make a difference.”

Conservation Award recipients

Habitat Restoration category: Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust. An outstanding long-term commitment to the restoration of the Kaiwharawhara Stream has earned the Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust this award. Since the trust was set up in 2000, more than 500 people have volunteered in this streamside re-vegetation project. A regular group of some 10 to 20 people, many of them of “mature years”, devote their weekends to weeding, raising seeds in the Otari nursery, planting seedlings and monitoring progress.

Other organisations also contribute. The reforestation of a 1.5km formerly weed-infested area beside the stream is proof that their hard work has paid off. Around 20,000 native plants have been established and a dense forest achieved on half of the 21 sites in the valley. Volunteers have gained a much deeper appreciation of conservation work and the trust is sharing what it has learnt with the public. This is a good example of involving others in a structured project to achieve both conservation and education outcomes.

Habitat Restoration (Special joint-award): Christopher Hopkins, Wainuiomata and Trevor Thompson, Mt Bruce. Chris and Trevor receive a special joint award in this category for their work in locating, banding, monitoring and protecting mistletoe.

Trevor’s so far promising attempts to propagate and disperse mistletoe include applying the sticky seeds to host trees in the Masterton urban area and elsewhere, including the Greytown Memorial Park. Chris’ work includes helping both DOC and Greater Wellington find mistletoes so they can monitor and protect them.

He has found or helped to find some 31 peraxilla mistletoes. He also alerted both authorities to a threatened coastal shrubland with eight endangered species and has assisted with pest control and vegetation monitoring. Chris was nominated by the Wellington Botanical Society and Chris Peterson, and Trevor was nominated by the Wairarapa Branch of Forest and Bird.

Kaitiakitanga: Colin Ryder, Johnsonville. This award acknowledges the sheer breadth of Colin’s involvement in conservation projects – from project management and resourcing, to being a prime catalyst for getting projects off the ground, and the holder of key positions in many environmental groups, including Friends of Mana and Matiu Somes Islands, and Forest and Bird. Colin has raised over $1 million for conservation projects in the Wellington region, including for the ecological restoration of Mana Island.

The eradication of mice from the island was the largest rodent eradication the world at the time and is still the second largest involving mice. Colin’s continuing involvement in the island’s restoration has seen him playing key roles in the return of native wildlife such as kakariki, fairy prions and diving petrels. Colin was nominated by Friends of Mana Island

Recreation category: David Stuart, Masterton. David typifies the spirit and dedication of many mountain and tramping club members to the provision and maintenance of facilities that can be enjoyed by others. A keen handyman, hunter and member of the Masterton Tramping Club, David is a hut warden for the Mitre Flats Hut in the Tararua Forest Park and has, in recent years, led volunteer projects to maintain and upgrade two other huts in the park. This has involved rebuilding parts of the Blue Range Hut - which he helped build back in 1957 – and replacing skylights, cleaning and repainting the Atiwhakata Hut.

This work has included organising materials to be flown to the site and then arranging a working bee. The Masterton Tramping Club is custodian for all three huts and club spirit and enjoyment has been promoted by David through these volunteer projects. Numerous visitors to the huts have also no doubt been entertained by some of David’s many stories.

Schools category: Greytown School. Through its integrated approach to environmental education, Greytown School is teaching its pupils that the future of their environment is theirs to determine and change through their actions. The school has developed a whole school approach to environmental education, building a concern for the environment and conservation into its teaching and operations.

One of the first schools to undertake Greater Wellington’s Take Action programme in 2002, it has since developed a range of initiatives to integrate the environment across its activities. These include the construction of a nursery shade house, an enviro-group, a recycling system, and the establishment of syndicates within the school which are assigned a garden to care for.

The school has also planted a rongoa garden, a Maori garden with plants for medicinal properties, and is constructing a gateway from two old totara logs retrieved from the area, symbolising the forest giants which once cloaked Greytown. Alongside these achievements, the school has formed a connection with the local community and people of the Papawai Marae to assist to restore the Papawai Stream that flows about 200 metres from the school. This sustainable school project serves as model for other schools.

Education and advocacy category: Graham and Letitia Montford, Levin. Graham and Letitia receive their award for organising the annual Tu Kakariki community/school planting day at Kowhai Park in Levin.

Over the past decade, around 5000 native trees and shrubs have been planted at this 10 hectare park, mainly by local school children who have learned much about conservation and community values from the exercise. In spite of initial setbacks and difficulties after the completion of an initial sponsored programme, Graham and Letitia succeeded in widening the project to include a strong educational focus and took in a new area.

Merit award recipients

Ron Freeston, Lower Hutt: For his efforts in restoring the wetland reserve at the head of the Pauatahanui Inlet for the past 21 years.

Ray Smith, Eastbourne: For his long term involvement in many environmental projects in the Eastbourne/Hutt Valley area, including the co-ordination of the Eastbourne Forest Ranger involvement with visitor management on Matiu/Somes Island, and the establishment of the East Harbour Mainland Island Restoration Operation (MIRO) in the Hawtrey-Gollans area of the East Harbour Regional Park.

Keep Otaki Beautiful: For transforming an area of wasteland between State Highway one and the railway line in Otaki into an attractive and peaceful reserve for the public.

Ian Weeds, Paraparaumu: For his volunteer work at Waikanae’s Nga Manu Reserve where he became a dedicated “granddad” to 350 juvenile tuatara being prepared for translocation to offshore islands.

Manuka Reserve Restoration Group, Masterton: For restoring the 1.8 hectare Manuka Reserve in Landsdowne, north Masterton, from a bare paddock with an un-vegetated stream running through it into a wetland reserve full of native plants, with signs to help inform the public.


ENDS

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