2015 Environment Awards
The 2015 Environment Awards were held at Ascot Park Hotel on Wednesday 5th August.
Sponsored by Milligan Seeds and the Department of Conservation
Winner - Kids Restore the Kepler
The Kids Restore the Kepler project has been running for five years and is fast becoming New Zealand's best practice model for community conservation education. There are two components to the project: restoration and preservation of birds through rat, stoat and possum control; and education involving over 450 kids aged 2 to 18 from all of the five learning centres in the Te Anau basin. Kids Restore the Kepler focuses on 3000 hectares of the Kepler Backyard Birdsong restoration project. Students are involved in every aspect of the project including physical work on site, website creation, construction, logo design, and studying different species. Kids Restore the Kepler is ambitiously aiming to have predator control in place for the entire 3000ha by 2017/18.
Other Nominees - Longford Intermediate School, Riverton Primary School
Special Award for Local Enhancement
Prize donated by Invercargill Licensing Trust
Winner - Erle Dale
At 87 years old, Erle Dale is not sitting idly in his room at Wyndham Rest Home. This vibrant and active man is constantly coming up with ideas to enhance the physical environment he shares with other rest home residents. In the past six years, he has transformed the outdoor area, supported by Margaret McKelvie and other local volunteers. The home now has its own ready supply of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries, all grown by Erle in the ever-expanding garden. He's also created a meditation garden, where residents can take time out and has numerous plans for the future.
Community Group Award
Sponsored by NZ Aluminium Smelters Ltd
Winner - Waiau Riparian Project
The Waiau Riparian Project, run by the Waiau River Liaison Committee has been working with funding from Meridian Energy and landowners since 2010 to fence off land along the Waiau River. With the funding shared 50/50 between landowners and Meridian, over $135,000 has been spent, fencing 22kms of tributaries in E class land. Judges were impressed with the project and the significant amount of work that had already been achieved noting that fences were set well back, in some cases, protecting areas of native vegetation and enhancing biodiversity.
Highly Commended - Riverton Heritage Harvest Festival
The annual Riverton Heritage Harvest Festival is a celebration of Southland's home harvest. Nearly 4,000 visitors travelled to Riverton from as far as Christchurch this year to experience the festival. Hundreds of visitors walked away inspired by the back-to-back workshops on topics ranging from how to feed your family on a acre' to practical advice in beekeeping and willow-weaving.
Other Nominees - Invercargill Vegan Society, South Alive, Wastebusters Trust
Sponsored by Forsyth Barr
Winner - Aaron Wilson
Balfour farmer Aaron Wilson is a man with a vision for farm sustainability. He converted the family farm to dairy in 2007 and now has a goal to be fully self-contained. Several years ago Aaron started looking at fodder beet to use in the shoulders of seasons to combat low grass growth. About three years ago, Aaron initiated the Balfour Water and Land Group. He believes farmers generally want to do the right thing, but need to be involved to have any influence over future changes.
Highly Commended - Clive Geddes
Castle Downs swamp is a piece of land jointly owned by Clive Geddes and his long-time mates. Initially enjoyed for duck shooting, it now boasts an abundance of birdlife thanks to Clive's commitment to trapping predators. He started about four years ago after his wife saw a stoat run past the window. It surprised him, made him think, and then take action. Clive started with six traps and now has more than 40 - catching over 200 stoats in the past three years.
Other Nominees - Chris Freer, Frank Wells, Lloyd Esler, Ray Willet, Ross Ramsay, Sue Miller
Sponsored by ANZ
Winner - Ken Murch Contracting
Ken Murch runs his own contracting business and is a leader in his field in New Zealand. He was keen to do something to help the environment and the farming community, so he elbowed his way into a contract with Plasback in 2007. Setting himself up from scratch Ken originally collected bale and silage wrap, but has expanded this to include feed bags, containers and chemical drums as well.
Highly Commended - Fiordland Lobster Company
The Fiordland Lobster Company definitely treasures its environment. For a company firmly focused on exports, being able to fund a project that is focused on returning such an important and iconic species to Fiordland is very special. The company has partnered with the Fiordland Conservation Trust and Ngai Tahu to fully fund the return of the little spotted kiwi back home to Dusky Sound.
Other Nominees - Clean Green Effluent Company Ltd, Rayonier Matariki Forests, ICC Parks & Gardens - Thomson's Bush, Peter Mason (Meridian Energy)
Sponsored by AWS Legal
Winner - Mike and Frank O'Brien
The O'Brien farm is an extensive, 2,500 hectare sheep and beef property set in Monowai. Boundaries of the property include the Fiordland National Park as well as 12 kms of the Waiau River, all of which is fenced as part of the Waiau Riparian Project. Protecting the other waterways on the farm is important to brothers Mike and Frank, who work at fencing a minimum of 2kms each year. The property boasts wetlands and significant areas of indigenous biodiversity, all protected through riparian fencing. In 2011 they installed a state of the art water scheme, delivering water via the 9kms of pipe from a spring to troughs across the farm.
Highly Commended - Jayvor Dairies
The Jayvor Dairies property near Edendale is a part of the Fortuna Group of farms and was recently converted to dairy. Expert advice was sought from a range of areas prior to moving any fence posts. Where possible native plantings along riparian areas were kept and an additional 3000 plants have been planted. Important red tussock areas have been fenced and all good management practices relating to nitrogen loss are being used. This farm is home to the beginning of the Waihopai River, so they are conscious of doing the right thing to avoid problems for others downstream.
Other Nominees - Allan and Kathryn Marshall (Glenfern Farm), Malcolm and Margaret MacKenzie, John and Mel Somerville (Arawata Deer Farm)
Sponsored by Real Journeys
Winner - Fiordland Conservation Trust
The Fiordland Conservation Trust is innovative and proactive. Its aim is to promote collaboration on biodiversity projects in Fiordland, tackling projects that might not otherwise be done because of lack of funding or professional support. The trust is also helping businesses and communities to get involved in a range of ways. Highlights:
- Keeping predator numbers low in the Sinbad Sanctuary project with Southern Discoveries.
- The translocation of the little spotted kiwi with Fiordland Lobster Company.
- Continued support for the Kids Restore the Kepler project
- Successful transfer of robins onto pest free Indian Island in 2013.
Highly Commended - Paul Gay
Nearly every week for the past 40 years, Paul Gay has dedicated his time to educating Southlanders on every aspect of nature, from pest plants through to unusual creatures and their habits. Paul has prepared over 2,000 articles for his weekly column, Natural World' in The Southland Times, and he's not stopping yet. This is just one of his many contributions to helping educate Southlanders about the environment. He's also spent many years as a teacher, and recently reached a milestone of 40 years as the chairman of the Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust.
Other Nominees - Southland Community Nursery Education Centre, Chris Morison, Sandy and Pita Dawson
Councillors' Special Award
Sponsored by Environment Southland Councillors
Winner - Malcolm & Margaret MacKenzie
For many decades, Margaret and Malcolm MacKenzie have farmed their property with a quiet emphasis on looking after the land. Their 193 hectare sheep farm at East Limehills is a fantastic example to others, with good riparian fencing and plantings, top stock management and the use of environmentally friendly fertilisers where possible. The property also features a large peat bog, which is QEII covenanted and Malcolm has recently constructed a large wetland along the eastern side of the peat bog to increase biodiversity.