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Northland Conservation Awards Announced

A posthumous award to legendary Southern Ocean sailor and ornithologist Gerry Clark, who was lost at sea earlier this year, is among nine being presented at the 10th annual Northland Conservation Awards in Whangarei on Friday 19 November.

Northland Conservator Gerry Rowan said the awards recognised the special achievements of people and organisations that have helped the Department of Conservation in its efforts to ensure a more secure future for the native plants, animals and historic resources of the region.

“This is a very special time of year for us, where we get to say thank you to all those people who have gone out of their way to help - whether it be leading by example on their own property or assisting the Department directly with their efforts,” Mr Rowan said.

“We openly acknowledge the need to harness these efforts and this commitment in the community to achieve conservation goals, many of which are often voluntary and on top of already very busy schedules,” Mr Rowan said.

Guest speaker at this years’ awards, now into their tenth year, is Dame Catherine Tizard.

The winners of this years awards are;

Geoff Wightman (Waimate North): Geoff Wightman is being recognised for his efforts in protecting native bush at Waimate North and the establishment of the Waimate North Landcare Trust. He has also helped a number of groups with setting up Landcare Trusts in other areas.

Mr Wightman has actively undertaken extensive conservation work on his own property and has been rewarded with excellent responses from wildlife like kiwi. He has also been a member of the Farm/Forestry Association and has a passion for showing native trees in his nursery.

Part of his property also has a Queen Elizabeth II covenant over it.

Auckland Zoo: Auckland Zoo has assisted the Department of Conservation in a number of ways with their species conservation programmes. Most notable has been its work in raising kiwi chicks as part of the Operation Nest Egg programme and also the hatching and rearing of the NZ Dotterel and the NZ Fairy Tern.

The zoo has provided facilities for the incubation and hatching of eggs, which has resulted in the release of about 25 kiwi into the wild.

Bill and Joan Lovell (Whangarei):

Rarewarewa farmers Bill and Joan Lovell have had a long time association with the Bank of New Zealand-sponsored kiwi recovery programme and have provided valuable support for kiwi work being carried out in the area.

Part of their property plays a critical role in a research project looking at various predator control methods needed for kiwi recovery.

Their support of this work has been unfailing and on many occasions have provided facilities and help with functions for dignitaries and visiting experts interested in kiwi research.

The Lovells have also fenced off at their own expense, other patches of important habitat, especially wetlands and supported DOC staff with the Otaikarangi Swamp Reserve. They have also been great advocates for dog control in the area and assisted staff in their kiwi advocacy work.

Krissy Khaine and Terry Higginson (Kaitaia):

Krissy Khaine and Terry Higginson who live south of Kaitaia are being recognised for their tireless commitment to conservation in the Far North.

Krissy and Terry have been members of a number of environmental watchdog groups and has assisted with kiwi monitoring for many years. They have provided an excellent example of dedication to the conservation cause to people in the area.

They have a small holding south of Kaitaia where they have undertaken extensive work to restore and enhance the bush, wetlands and streamside ecosystems on their land.

Krissy also works as a voluntary ranger on a Forest Restoration Trust Block near their home.

Richard Drake (Tangiteroria):

Former Northland Conservation Board chairman Richard Drake is being presented with a Conservation Award for his many years of service to the environment in the region.

Mr Drake’s interest in the outdoors began very early on as a member of the scouting movement and from there progressed to tramping clubs, Mountain Safety Council and the New Zealand Speliological Society.

In the last 10 years his environmental resume has included membership of the Northland National Parks and Reserves Board and the Northland Conservation Board, six of these years spent as chairman.

One of his crowning achievements during this time is the completion of the Northland Conservation Management Strategy which sets out the goals and priorities for DoC in Northland for the next 10 years.

Mr Drake also spearheaded the establishment of the NZ Walkways commission.

All of these commitments have come on top of running his Tangiteroria family beef and sheep farm.

Rebecca Moore (Matarau):

Matarau School student Rebecca Moore is being recognised for her win in the prestigious ECNZ National Science and Technology Fair last year, where she was awarded the premier prize for her investigative work on Kauri snails.

Her research, which included going through wild pig droppings found that these animals were the main threat to the kauri snail’s future. Other possible culprits were rats, possums and cattle.

Cecil Opert (Mangonui): Whakaangi resident Cecil Opert is being recognised for his dedication to kiwi recovery and his role in the establishment of the Whakaangi community Landcare Group.

Mr Opert is of Te Rarawa decent and has spent many years carrying pest control out on his own property while also encouraging others around him to undertake similar efforts.

Mr Opert has also helped the Department of Conservation in a number of projects including archaeological surveys, native fish surveys and work on native bats.

Robyn Webb (Whangarei): Robyn Webb, who is married to Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre Manager Robert Webb, is being recognised for her behind the scenes efforts at this important facility.

For many years Robyn Webb has played an important role in caring for injured birds as well as the successful hatching and raising of abandoned kiwi chicks. She has often stepped in when her husband is unavailable and it is this unfailing dedication to caring for our native species that is being honored with a Northland Conservation Award.

Gerry Clark (posthumous): Gerry Clark is being honored for his many years of commitment to seabird research and conservation.

Much of this work was carried out voluntarily in inhospitable regions like the Southern Ocean, a place that eventually claimed his life earlier this year.

Gerry Clark came to New Zealand in 1951 with his wife Marjorie, where they bought an orchard in Kerikeri. Their orchard was one of the first to be registered with the BioGrow movement in New Zealand.

Gerry Clarke was also instrumental in the establishment of the Kerikeri Stone Store Preservation Society, which with community support raised a substantial amount of money used to reverse a decision that would have allowed development of a residential subdivision in this historic area

The Government later complimented this effort and assisted with the purchase in perpetuity this land in the heart of the Kerikeri Baisn.

Following this he became interested in sailing and over the years undertook many long voyages to the southern ocean including a circumnavigation of Antarctica and visiting the islands around the southern tip of South America.

For his sailing achievements he was also awarded a number of international prizes. His most famous voyage, was chronicled in the book “Voyage of the Totorore” which was based on transcripts of at least 70 tapes recorded during the circumnavigation of Antarctica.

At least eleven ornithological publications resulted from this voyage. The award is being presented posthumously to his wife Marjorie at the Friday ceremony.

For more information please contact Wanda Vivequin on (09) 4380299

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