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Environmental award winners announced

Environmental award winners announced

Environmental award winners with John Cronin, Environment Bay of Plenty’s chairman, at centre back.

An 84-year-old Coast Care stalwart, a school which teaches children the value of caring for their environment and a group that has transformed an overgrown quarry into a fantastic park are among the winners of this year’s Environment Bay of Plenty environmental awards.

The awards are an annual event designed to celebrate the work being done by community groups, schools and individuals to improve and protect the environment in the Bay of Plenty. Twenty-three nominations were received for the three categories, for individuals, community groups and educational organisations. Winners were eligible for up to $1000 and highly commended entries up to $500.

Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin, who presented the awards at a council meeting on Thursday 26 September, said they recognised the outstanding contributions made by people and groups to the region’s environment.

Results are:

Individual Joint winner: Neil Probert of Mount Maunganui, for 14 years of dedicated service to the coastal environment. A long-time Coast Care stalwart, Mr Probert goes out in all weathers to plant the sand dunes, gather seeds and dig out any weeds “that aren’t supposed to be there”. He is dedicated, enthusiastic and untiring. Joint winner: Rebecca Stevens, for outstanding work for the environment while a teacher at Galatea School. Rebecca, who now lives in Wairoa, initiated many environmental enhancement projects, including a lunch craft group that created art from recycled materials, a conservation group, a school worm farm, and community recycling initiatives.

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Education Winner: Rangitaiki Independent School, Coastlands, Whakatane, for excellence in a wide variety of environmental initiatives involving students and the wider community. “They are going far beyond what is required of a school,” says Environment Bay of Plenty’s Bruce Fraser. Initiatives include an organic garden, planting a large area in native plants and being the community’s agent for recycling printer cartridges. “We are teaching children the value of caring for their environment,” says teacher Wendy Mulligan. “They are learning how easy it is to manage waste at school and they are able to transfer this knowledge to their home environments.” Students learn skills such as gardening, recycling, reducing, reusing, composting and vermi-composting. Highly commended: Forest and Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club for its excellent environmental magazine, which is produced by Tauranga’s Ann Graeme, printed locally, and distributed nationally to 17,000 children. Highly commended: Te Akau ki Papamoa School, for its enthusiastic approach to environmental enhancement. One of the region’s first Enviroschools, staff and students have made a commitment to becoming more sustainable. Students drive the environment programmes.

Community Winner: Te Puna Quarry Park Society for excellence in land management and biodiversity control in the Te Puna Park Quarry. Over the last six years, volunteers have transformed the overgrown, disused quarry on the Minden hillside into a fantastic community asset. Highly commended: Manawahe Kokako Trust for excellence in the protection of the endangered Kokako. Formed in 1997, the trust works to reduce possums, rats and other predators from 250ha of land. The Kokako population has since grown from 14, mostly older, birds to 32 or more. “When you walk in the bush now you can hear them singing,” trustee Gaye Murphy told the council meeting. “We are having a wonderful time – and we’re doing something for our grandchildren,” she said. Highly commended: Tauranga Environment Centre for excellence in education on sustainable management, facilitation in resource management and coordinator on environmental issues. The centre opened in new premises in Tauranga’s city centre late last year.

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