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Service to birds and bush recognised in New Year Honours


Decades of dedication to Aotearoa’s unique birds, landscapes, and native eels is recognised in the New Year 2020 Honours List said Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

“I’m delighted that the decades of dedication to conservation, and fantastic leadership in giving nature a helping hand is being acknowledged,” said Eugenie Sage.

Founders of Heli Otago in 1993, Graeme and Ros Gale from Outram have been made Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit today for their services to aviation and conservation.

“Graeme and Ros Gale led the establishment of the Otago Rescue Helicopter service which has delivered more than 10,000 patients to hospital over the last 21 years, often in very challenging conditions. Their innovation, expertise and commitment to aerial predator control over many years has also helped save countless native birds and the health of our forests.

“The courage and skill of the Heli Otago pilots was recently highlighted by the epic mission to Motu Ihupuku/Campbell Island to rescue Flint, a conservation dog,” said Eugenie Sage.

The Queenstown based co-founder and chair of the Kea Conservation Trust, Tasmin Orr-Walker has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit today for services to kea conservation.

“With only about 5,000 kea left in the world, the honour formally recognises the tremendous work Tamsin Orr-Walker has done to improve our understanding of kea and how to best protect this iconic, intelligent and curious bird and the world’s only alpine parrot,” said Eugenie Sage.

“Tamsin Orr-Walker has increased public awareness of the urgency of kea conservation and improved our knowledge and understanding of kea ecology and threats, as well as conservation techniques.

William (Bill) Kerrison from Murupara and of Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa and Tanui has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to river and wildlife conservation.

“Rivers are the lifeblood of Aotearoa and William (Bill) Kerrison has done a tremendous job in ensuring that native fish and taonga species such as tuna/longfin eel survive and thrive in rivers such as the Rangitaiki.”

“Bill’s dedication to conservation has seen an estimated 30 million tuna relocated in a “catch and release” programme so they can survive in rivers where their natural migration is blocked by human made structures such as dams,” said Eugenie Sage.

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