ZEALANDIA wins conservation education award
Wellington, NZ - Wellington ecosanctuary Zealandia has taken home a prestigious Green Ribbon Awardin the Leadership in Communication and Education' category. Run by Ministry for the Environment and Department of Conservation, these national awards recognise exceptional environmental and conservation initiatives throughout New Zealand.
Neighbouring community group Polhill Protectors were also a finalist in the awards for the Community Leadership category.
"It's brilliant to see two of the finalists come from Wellington projects," said Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
"Zealandia and the Polhill Protectors represent the passion that Wellington's citizens have in looking after their natural capital."
Zealandia were selected thanks to their Education Team's ongoing conservation outreach, facilitating over half of all school conservation sessions in the Wellington region. They've also been pushing innovative resources to get kids engaged, such as their own trading card game, observation app, and Youth Ambassador programme.
"Our Education team have been doing fantastic work engaging and inspiring young people through programmes at Zealandia and outreach to their own special places." said Zealandia Chief Executive Paul Atkins.
"I’m constantly amazed by the level of knowledge and enthusiasm in our rangatahi. Our young people are the next generation of kaitiaki and we are engaged in the exciting work of growing our future leaders and champions for nature."
Both Zealandia and Polhill are closely connected: they are separated by Zealandia's eastern border. Polhill hosts manu taonga (bird treasures) like tieke (saddleback), toutouwai (robin), and kaka that have spilled over from Zealandia and are living in Wellington’s wild backyard. In 2014 tieke successfully nested on the mainland outside of a fenced sanctuary for the first time in over a century. Zealandia also host education sessions in the reserve.
“The [Polhill] project revolves around the passion of a community of people committed to figuring out how we can be neighbourly with our natives - how people, pets and our native wildlife can get on progressively, says Polhill Protector Paul Stanley Ward.
"To paraphrase Dave Attenborough: Kiwis will only protect about what they care about, and they’ll only care about what they’ve experienced. The recognition is testament to 1000s of hours of collective volunteer effort, but the ultimate reward is being able to live, work and play alongside native taonga like tieke, kaka, kotukutuku and toutouwai.”
This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Lester, who said that "what is special about both projects is that they enable Wellingtonions to experience their native taonga in their everyday lives."
"Five minutes from Civic Square you can go mountain biking or trail running with tieke [saddleback] and toutouwai [robin] ... and how many other mayors get to see kaka and karearea flying past their office window?!"