Environment Awards announced
Southland’s environmental champions have been recognised at the 23rd Southland Community Environment Awards in Invercargill tonight.
There were 27 nominees representing all corners of the region.
Those recognised by the awards were:
- Menzies College in the Environmental Action in Education category for their year 12 science class who have been working on a project in the Mimihau River to catch and tag trout. They’ve also been hatching and growing brown trout to release back into the river and have received training and support from Fish & Game, who have provided nets, breeding tanks and fish eggs. In return, the students’ findings will feed into the fish database, providing a more accurate picture of the life in the waterway.
- Peter McDonald and Kim Spencer-McDonald won the Environmental Leadership in Farming and Land Management in recognition of their strong focus on sustainability and consideration of the environment in all decision making. The couple farm 669 hectares of hill country in the Caroline Valley, including 135 hectares in native podocarp forest and scrubland, and a further 29 hectares in a QEII covenant. Peter and Kim made the decision to move away from cattle grazing and transition to sheep, after recognising that this was the best decision from a land use perspective. The couple are actively involved in their local community, sharing knowledge and demonstrating a strong sense of social responsibility.
- Paul Duffy was presented with the award for Environmental Achievement for his work with the South Catlins Charitable Trust. He’s been involved for the last nine years, during which time he’s worked hard with others on the creation of the Tumu Toka Curioscape, the improvement of tourism-related facilities and the preservation and restoration of bush surrounding the small coastal town. He has been instrumental in the Trust’s protection of their precious environment including the petrified forest and penguin habitat. He’s passionate about Curio Bay, and keen to share knowledge about its history and local wildlife with visitors.
- The Forest Hill Foundation Trust was recognised for Environmental Action in the Community for the huge amount of work they have undertaken out at Forest Hill since 2005 to remove pests and predators from the area. The dedicated group of volunteers are seeing the benefits now, as the forest floor becomes more diverse and the sound of birdsong increases. With a long border and fully surrounded by farmland, keeping pests out of the area is a challenge, but the group has worked with local landowners to develop a joint approach. They’ve set their sights high, with the goal to establish a 3.8 kilometre predator fence around the perimeter of the Northern Block, which will provide a protected area to act as a nursery for precious indigenous flora and fauna.
- Jade Maguire took out the award for Individual Environmental Leadership or Action for his work at Te Takutai o te Tītī Marae in Colac Bay. At the marae he’s started an initiative to provide an eco-learning space, with the aim of teaching the community skills to recover our natural environment and improve their own health. As part of his initiative, he’s built a native nursery where he works with the community to grow thousands of plants each year, which are then used in local restoration projects. He’s also set up vegetable gardens to teach people how to grow their own food and be more self-sufficient.
- Kaitiaki Tohu Pai (Guardian Award) was a new award last year and this year it was presented to Wini Solomon for her outstanding commitment to sharing our culture and heritage. Wini has an ability to get alongside people from all walks of life and teach and support them in their learning. She has inspired generations of New Zealanders to make connections with each other and our natural environment. Her teachings help start conversations about the wider world, and the judges were struck by the connection she has with her students. Those people learning from her gain not only some education, but a cultural experience and understanding every time. She has spent over 40 years inspiring others and sharing her knowledge.
- Otatara couple Russell and May Evans were presented with a Long Service Award in recognition of their dedication to rescuing and rehabilitating native birds. For nearly 30 years, this couple has saved many of the kereru, tui, bellbirds and kingfishers which are brought to their door each year. The pair’s work with their local landcare group has further helped the survival of native birds in the area. The pair are about to retire, but are still keen to see the re-introduction of kakariki in Otatara, and have set up a trust in the hope that others will take over what they’ve started.
- Bluff 2024 were the recipients of this year’s Councillors' Special Award for their work to enhance the appearance and vibe of Bluff. The group of about 8-10 core volunteers, with a wider network of community supporters, have successfully tackled some large projects including the beautification of the highway coming into town, the new Bluff sign, the remodeling of Ocean Beach and Morrison’s Beach carparks and annual street clean-ups.
Environmental Action in Education – sponsored by Milligan Seeds and the Department of Conservation
Menzies College Winner
Lucy Cooper, Izzy Bowen and Lara Leitch Commended
Shane Wilson Commended
Gore High School
Environmental Leadership in Farming and Land Management – sponsored by Wynn Williams
Peter McDonald and Kim Spencer-McDonald Winner
Mark and Vicki Nicholson
PAMU Mt Hamilton Station
Environmental Achievement – sponsored by Real Journeys
Paul Duffy Winner
Raewyn van Gool Commended
Stewart Island-Rakiura Community Environment Trust
Environmental Action in the Community – sponsored by New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter
Forest Hill Foundation Trust Winner
Cathy Jordan Commended
Omaui Landcare Group
Southland Coastal Charitable Trust
Three Rivers Catchment Group
Wyndham Wildlife Refuge
Individual Environmental Leadership or Action – sponsored by AON
Jade Maguire Winner
Anne McDermott Commended
Kaitiaki Tohu Pai (Guardian Award) – sponsored by ANZ
Long Service Award – sponsored by the Invercargill Licensing Trust
Russell and May Evans
Councillors' Special Award - sponsored by
Environment Southland councillors