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Inspirational Wanganui botanist wins award

6 August 2004

Inspirational Wanganui botanist wins premier conservation award

A Wanganui botanist, whose passion for plants inspired generations of students to take up careers in conservation and ecology, has won New Zealand’s premier conservation award.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today that presentation of the 2004 Loder Cup to former teacher and scientist Colin Ogle was a fitting tribute to 40 years’ worth of passionate commitment to conservation.

“It gives me great pleasure in presenting Colin with this prestigious award, which recognises the outstanding contribution he has made to understanding and expanding our knowledge of New Zealand’s native flora.

“His passion for New Zealand’s natural environment and his tireless research has unlocked some of the great mysteries surrounding our native plant life,” Mr Carter said.

Considered New Zealand’s premier conservation award, the Loder Cup was donated by English botanist Gerald Loder in 1926 to honour those who worked to “retain, investigate and cherish New Zealand’s incomparable flora”.

Mr Ogle was nominated for the award by representatives from the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board, Landcare Research, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa, the New Zealand Ecological Society and the Wanganui Museum Botanical Group.

Te Papa Curator of Botany Dr Patrick Brownsey said Mr Ogle had made a “remarkable contribution” to botany over the years, and his affinity with young people had encouraged many to become involved in conservation and ecological work.

“I have known Colin for almost 25 years and throughout that period have been continually impressed by his broad knowledge of New Zealand flora, his unflagging enthusiasm for conservation, and above all, his zest for imparting knowledge to new generations of botanists and conservationists.”

Mr Ogle’s outstanding contribution to botany was also recognised last year with the Allan Mere Award, presented by the New Zealand Botanical Society.

New Zealand Ecological Society secretary and Canterbury University Associate Professor David Kelly said Mr Ogle was a very worthy recipient of the Loder Cup and was widely regarded as “one of the most prominent and respected botanists in New Zealand”.

Mr Ogle’s love of nature was sparked when as a young boy, he was asked by his mother to entertain guests by telling them the names of plants in the garden. That passion later led to qualifications in botany and zoology, followed by a 15-year career teaching science and biology. He also spent much of his spare time doing ecological work.

In 1978, he joined the Wildlife Service as a scientist, which involved travel around New Zealand surveying forests, wetlands and other natural areas. The many reports and papers he produced from those surveys are still used today.

In 1987, he became an advisory scientist for the Department of Conservation in Wanganui, and remained there until retiring in 2001. During this time he collected and logged over 5500 native and exotic plant specimens, helped establish a plant nursery at Kaitoke Prison, served on numerous advisory committees and oversaw the development of the Paengaroa Mainland Island near Taihape, home to many rare and threatened plants.

Mr Ogle has written numerous scientific papers over the years and contributed to dozens of others. His nature photography has appeared in books, magazines and displays. Now semi-retired, he continues to provide expert advice and support to the Department of Conservation and other organisations such as Forest and Bird and the New Zealand Botanical Society.


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