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Waitākere environmental champions recognised in Awards

Waitākere environmental champions recognised in the Love Your Place Awards


1 October 2018

Auckland, N.Z.: Winners of the Love Your Place Awards were celebrated in a ceremony held at the Titirangi War Memorial Hall on the Thursday night, the 27th of September.

Funded by the Waitākere Ranges Local Board and organised and hosted by EcoMatters Environment Trust, the awards were organised to celebrate volunteer efforts across the Waitākere Ranges Local Board area.

The night gave the Waitākere conservation community an opportunity to specifically acknowledge Te Kawerau a Maki and their leadership in protecting Te Wao Nui A Tiriwa in the fight against kauri dieback. A special acknowledgement also went to the Waitākere Ranges Protection Society for their long-standing care and protection of the Waitākere Ranges.

“The local board was pleased to again be involved in the celebration of the tremendous work that individuals and the community perform in protecting and enhancing our environment. It was a humbling experience being among so many people dedicated to improving our piece of paradise,” said Greg Presland, Chair of the Waitākere Ranges Local Board.

“The recognition of the contribution of Te Kawerau A Maki and its supporters to the urgent need to address kauri dieback was especially appropriate.”

“Their contribution is absolutely critical to the battle to protect the Waitakere. We simply do not have the resources to adequately protect the environment without them.”

EcoMatters Chair Tam Alexander said that the Love Your Place Awards was an event that made his heart soar.

“As a community we are different in so many ways, and yet united in our desire to make our place a better one for those who come after us. The awards were a small way of recognising and celebrating some of the champions of our environment,” said Alexander.

“It was exciting also to be reminded how guardianship of this special place, the Waitākere Ranges, has passed down the generations and continues today in the safe hands of Te Kawerau a Maki.”

The conservation community also took a moment to remember the contributions of two long-serving environmental advocates for the Ranges who have recently passed on - Denise Yates and Trixie Harvey.

Awards were given out in five categories, recognising youth, school groups, businesses, volunteer groups and individual volunteers who have made an impact in waste minimising, community gardening, and protecting native biodiversity.

The winners are:


For youth (under 16) showing emerging leadership around local environmental issues

Judges’ Commendation:

Leon Schipper: Leon has shown outstanding leadership at Laingholm Primary School by bringing back school composting, litterless lunches, and food gardens at the school providing healthy food for families.


Thomas Forrest-Dawson: Thomas has supported the rāhui by talking to people on the tracks about kauri dieback and eagerly cleaning their footwear, tyres and paws as they entered and exited the tracks. He has also helped with data collection, educating community about kauri dieback and assisting with infected trees.


For a school or school group taking action on a local environmental issue

Judges’ Commendation:

Glen Eden Intermediate: Teacher Fleur Hunter has led a group of around 20 students as part of the William Pike Challenge program, involving students in environmental restoration work carried out by Project Twin Streams. Work includes native seed collection, planting, weeding and monitoring.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi: Environmental studies are a huge part of the Hoani Waititi curriculum, including vege garden planting and care, involvement in tree planting, monitoring of tracking tunnels and chew cards, and water quality to name a few.


Glen Eden Primary School - Garden to Table Programme: With huge passion and focus, students involved in the Garden to Table Programme are regularly involved in planting seeds, seedlings, weeding, watering, composting, recycling and harvesting the produce.


For a business or social enterprise making a contribution to improve the environment

Judges Commendation:

Practically Green - Coralie Archer: Coralie has turned her personal experiences and passion for wero waste into a business, supplying workshops for zero waste homes and businesses with small and realistic changes with measurable results.


eCoTrack - Steve MacLeod: eCoTrack is a ground-breaking communication and data management website and app for conservation. Communities can track ecological and conservation activities allowing accurate data collection for groups and organisations.


For an outstanding volunteer group or organisation taking action on a local environmental issue

Judges Commendation:

Kauri Rescue (Dr Mels Barton): Kauri Rescue has embarked on a 2 year project to engage community in the awareness and treatment of kauri dieback disease.

Friends of Whatipu (Wayne McKenzie): This group has shown great energy, leadership, and commitment of vision to the care of the remote area of Whatipu.

Reconnect Family Services Supported Bail Programme (Mckenzie Tuala-Pine): This organisation encourages and works with troubled youth, teaches them about the environment and regularly carries out work on Project Twin Streams and Waikumete stream restoration.


South Titirangi Neighbourhood Network (Vicki Sargisson): The South Titirangi Neighbourhood Network are involved in monitoring, weeding, planting, and have 300 households involved in a large predator control programme.


For an outstanding individual volunteer taking action on a local environmental issue

Judges Commendation:

Derek March: A Community Coordinator for Project Twin Streams, Derek teaches young people about looking after the rivers and installing a love for their environment. He has also volunteers in his local community helping to restore the sand dunes in Bethells.

Annalily van den Broeke: Annalily has worked tirelessly for local West Auckland conservation. Her approach is one of silent diligence where the work is its own reward.

Dr Mels Barton: Mels Barton is an environmental scientist and exceptional individual who is passionate about the Waitākere Ranges. Her work includes advocating for our parks, trees, waterways and oceans locally and nationally.


John Sumich: John has over the years spent every spare minute of his free time working tirelessly for conservation, in projects such as Ark in the Park and Habitat Te Henga. His determination has seen outstanding results for our local environment.


Photos can be found here


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