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Awards honour efforts to protect our heritage

9 August 2006

Awards honour efforts to protect our cultural and natural heritage

A spruced up electric suburban train joins the outstanding examples of cultural and natural heritage restoration honoured in the 11th Wellington Conservation Awards.

A preserved monument to New Zealand’s shearing history; a rebuilt heritage hut; a restored wetland; a conservation educationalist; a group caring for sick and injured wildlife; a school that has turned a degraded stream into a refuge for native flora and fauna, and a conservationist described as a “visionary” are among other projects and people acknowledged in this year’s awards, being presented tonight by Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

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

This year a new category – Business in Conservation - has been introduced to recognise those who go above and beyond what is expected of them in their employment to preserve and protect our cultural and natural heritage. The award has gone to Tranz Metro Wellington for restoring a 1954 single headlight English Electric multiple unit named Cyclops and maintaining a link to Wellington City’s past. An iconic feature of the city’s suburban rail network, Cyclops was the only unit left retaining the original single large headlight.

Mr Carter said the new category fitted in nicely with this year’s Conservation Week theme of Everybody’s Business, highlighting the responsibility we all have in the ongoing protection of our land and its people.

“Everyone needs to take responsibility, whether as a business, a group, or an individual. We all benefit from conservation, so we all must play a part in protecting our future.”

He said the restoration of Cyclops was a labour of love for many staff members who went far beyond what was expected of them in their paid employment.

Mr Carter described as “outstanding” the 23 nominations received for this year’s awards.

“Their enthusiasm is phenomenal. These are people of vision and commitment who have contributed countless hours to conserving and restoring areas of the Wellington region.”

Other Conservation Awards went to:

- Tenick Dennison and the Henley Trust for long-term commitment to Henley Lake near Masterton. It provides for important bird habitat, recreation and educational opportunities;

- Tony Macklin on behalf of the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association for work on the Roaring Stag Lodge a recreational hut in the eastern Tararua Ranges that is keenly enjoyed by hunters and trampers;

- Pam Mayston in special recognition for her inspired and enthusiastic work with young people in the Lower Hutt Kiwi Conservation Club;

- Native Bird Rescue Wellington Trust (NBRWT) for providing special care and rehabilitation for sick, injured and orphaned birds that come into their care;

- Shear Discovery New Zealand, for preserving the history of shearing in two restored heritage woolsheds in Masterton;

- Kapiti’s Leon Kiel in special recognition of his work preserving and enhancing the local environment and being a catalyst for positive change;

- Kenakena School for work on ecological projects and working in partnership with community groups in the Paraparaumu area.

Merit awards were presented to:

- Lynn and (the late) George Middleditch for renovating and preserving the historic Thistle Inn in Wellington;

- Washington Limited for archaeological preservation of sites associated with Wellington’s Te Aro Pa, and their conservation and interpretation;

- Tinui and Districts Lions Club for promoting and providing ease of access to the Tinui Taipos, the first known ANZAC memorial in the world;

- Jo and Trish Taylor for long term commitment to the protection of the sand dunes at Riversdale Beach on the Wairarapa Coast;

- John Rush in special recognition of animal pest control work to Restore the Dawn Chorus in the Catchpool Valley in Rimutaka Forest Park;

- Kapiti Botany Group, Kapi Mana branch of Forest and Bird and friends of Greendale Reserve for the restoration of Greendale Reserve in Otaihanga, and linking to other groups in the community including Kenakena School;

- Neil Bellingham for long term commitment to enhancing and restoring the native forest Maara Roa in Belmont Regional Park;

- Russel McStay for tireless work and stewardship of Waiwhetu’s Hayward Scenic Reserve;

Conservation Board Chairperson Bill Carter said the high quality of the nominations made judging difficult for the panel of Conservation Board and Department of Conservation Wellington Conservancy representatives.

“Each year we are encouraged by the number of nominations of individuals and groups that have taken the initiative of rehabilitating a particular area and making it better for us all to enjoy.

“Habitat restoration is an obvious benefit to the community. It is also a wonderful opportunity for school children to learn about plants and small creepy crawlies as well of course the nasties of pests that either prey on our birds or plants.

“There are a lot of school groups that are doing wonderful work that we don’t hear about but we really do want to publicise their achievements.

Mr Carter said he was “delighted” this year to see the number of business firms nominated for their outstanding achievements in preserving heritage sites, buildings and equipment.

How else could you pay tribute to the restoration of a venerable railway unit, a vintage hotel and part of the early Wellington settlement and the site of the first Anzac memorial service” he said.

Conservation Award recipient profiles and contact details:


Tranz Metro of Wellington, Business in Conservation category.

The big red train called Cyclops is a familiar sight as it chugs its way between Wellington and Taita of late, but not everyone is aware of its historical significance. In 2005 Tranz Metro and Greater Wellington Regional Council initiated a project to refurbish the 1950’s English Electric multiple units operating on the Wellington suburban rail network.

Tranz Metro staff suggested that a 1954 three car unit, the only one retaining the original single large headlight be restored in a style constant with its original exterior appearance. Tranz Metro planned and executed the refurbishment from start to finish in its own paint, panel and refurbishment facility in Wellington. It was a labour of love for many staff members who went far beyond what was expected of them in their paid employment. Cyclops has attracted significant attention from rail users and increased heritage awareness. It stands as a reminder to all those Wellingtonians who travelled on the “Red Rattlers’ of a special part of our city’s history.

The Native Bird Wellington Trust, Kaitiakitanga category.

The Native Bird Wellington Trust was established to provide care and rehabilitation for sick, injured and orphaned native birds that come into their care via the Department of Conservation, Wellington SPCA, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, veterinary clinics and the public. Due to the care and diligence of the volunteers of this group, many birds are released fit, well and able to fend for themselves. A number of birds are released at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary – to date this includes several Kereru, bellbirds and North Island robins.


The Shear History Trust, Heritage category.

The Shear History Trust was formed in April, 1997, with the purpose of collecting and conserving historical information about early sheep farming and the New Zealand shearing industry, in the form of written material, photos and videos, oral histories and the establishment of a museum in Masterton. Shear Discovery New Zealand was opened in March 2005, housed in two historically important Wairarapa woolsheds, and has become a popular education resource. It is the only recognised national shearing and woolhandling museum in New Zealand, and is helping to preserve knowledge about an important part of New Zealand’s historical and economic heritage.

Tenick Dennison and The Henley Trust, Habitat Restoration category.

Henley Lake, parklands and associated wetlands is a 43 hectare area adjacent to the Ruamahanga and Waipoua Rivers on the North East boundary of Masterton, which was opened in 1998. The area was planted quite extensively in the early days, but was in need of ongoing maintenance and development. Tenick Dennison, working with the Masterton District Council, formed the Henley Trust in 2003, with the aim of maintaining the existing plantings, reforming and enhancing the overgrown wader ponds, and planting the area in native trees. Tenick was nominated by Owen Prior.

Tony Macklin, on behalf of the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association, Recreation Category.

Roaring Stag Lodge is located at the Ruapae Forks in the Tararua Ranges, it was built in the late 1960’s, with all materials carried in by hand, and stood the test of time for 40 years. Conditions within the hut meant that it was time for it to be replaced and the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association offered to help. Tony Macklin worked in a voluntary capacity as the project manager for the rebuilding of the new hut and was involved from start to finish. The end product is a warm, well lit, comfortable hut that will be enjoyed for many years to come.


Pam Mayston, Education and Advocacy Category.

Pam Mayston has been the inspired and enthusiastic leader of the Lower Hutt Kiwi Conservation Club for the past 6 years. The Kiwi Conservation Club, the junior section of Forest and Bird, aims to encourage children to enjoy, respect and understand the natural world. The Kiwi Conservation Club code is: “I will love and care for my natural world- the native plants and animals, and the places where they live. I CAN make a difference!” We have people such as Pam to thank for help in instilling such an important message to our future generations. Pam is also involved in many other conservation projects in the region and her long-term commitment is an inspiration to us all.



Leon Kiel, Innovation category

Leon receives his award in special recognition of work preserving and enhancing the local Kapiti environment and for being a catalyst for positive change. Leon has been described by those who know him as a ‘visionary’, through both his professional activities and huge voluntary effort he has been able to work effectively with Councillors, Council Officers, developers and the wider community to ensure high quality environmental outcomes in an area under considerable development pressure. He conveys great enthusiasm for both restoring the natural environment and making it accessible for non-damaging recreation.

Kenakena School of Paraparaumu, Young Conservationist category.

Kenakena School received an award for the ecological restoration and enhancement work it has been undertaking in the local community. Kenakena school has been working on different environmental education initiatives for a number of years.

One of their greatest conservation achievements has been an ongoing, eight year involvement with the restoration of the Greendale Reserve, transforming it from a degraded stream environment running through grazed paddocks to a fantastic refuge for native plants and animals. Because the school has been involved for eight successive years, some students have visited the reserve and planted some trees for every year of their time with the school. They have had the opportunity to see the trees they have planted grow up as they do.

Many of these students remember which plants they planted and have a strong connection with them, seeking them out on future visits and talking about them with pride and affection. Students have also formed friendships with the Kapiti Botany Group and Forest and Bird members who assist them at planting days each year. These people are great role models, and examples of how local people can take responsibility for making a positive change to their environment.


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