Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust with their first place award
Image: DOC


The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board awards Te Waka o Aoraki annually, to recognise and encourage conservation efforts and achievements in Canterbury.

The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board awards the ‘Te Waka o Aoraki’ trophy to a person or group of people who have nominated themselves to be considered for the award.

Each year, in late July/early August, the Board will invite applicants to be considered. The award is sponsored by the The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust

The story behind the trophy

The carving represents a combination of Ngāi Tahu history and whakapapa based on the information passed on to the carver, Te Ari Brennan by Kaumātua (elder), Taua Kera Browne of Arowhenua. The rākau (wood) is rimu and the stone is pounamu (greenstone).

The story as told, is that Aoraki and his brothers came down from the heavens in a waka. On their return, a problem arose, and the waka began to take water on board which caused it to turn on its side. Aoraki and his brothers climbed onto the side of the waka and there they sat in hope. But an icy cold storm arose, transforming Aoraki and his brothers into ice and rock, hence the name Te Waka o Aoraki.

The ‘vee’ shape of the rimu depicts Aoraki. It also depicts the waka, which is why Aoraki is carved in wood and not rock, based on the story.

The warrior who is carved into Aoraki represents mankind of today, stating that we are one with our maunga (mountains), our awa (rivers), our whenua (land) and our moana (seas), but always returning to Aoraki, the paramount and principal of Ngāi Tahu.

The pounamu is our most treasured taonga and it rests at the feet of Aoraki in its natural form for all to admire. The base on which it rests is referred to as the whāriki (sacred mat) where all teachings of today’s knowledge begin.


2022 - Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust

The work of trust and their 2050 Ecological Vision for Banks Peninsula (including the Port Hills) impressed on the Board the measurable difference the trust has and will have on conservation outcomes for Canterbury.

In particular, protecting the taonga of Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū (Banks Peninsula). The work of the trust is underpinned by a community-led approach, effective collaboration between interested parties and good science.

2021 - Predator Free Port Hills

This Otautahi urban fringe backyard and community trapping project aims to eventually eradicate pest predators from the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour areas by connecting communities to preserve and protect native flora and fauna. Supported by the Summit Road Society who provide subsidized traps for sale to the over 1000 households signed up, they are now looking to extend the project into schools and reserves to improve biodiversity outcomes.

2020 - Akaroa Area School

The school community wanted to do something about climate change, so they took over the management of Te Umu te Tehua (Hammond Point) Reserve and have since become kaitiaki of the Reserve. Partnerships have been created with DOC, the Christchurch City Council, local businesses, and the local community. The school has undertaken fencing and significant planting in the Reserve and hope to use the money from the Award for future pest management and for building habitats for white-flippered penguins to encourage their return to the location.

2019 - The Okuti River Project

The focus of this project is community-based stewardship of the Okuti River on Banks Peninsula.  This unique project has adopted a catchment-based management approached and has ambitious objectives that seek to protect a high value habitat. It also aims to improve the relationship people have with their freshwater environment. 

2018 - Squawk Squad

Squawk Squad is a social enterprise founded in New Zealand and their kaupapa is to connect and engage kiwis in the protection and growth of our native birds. Their approach is about taking conservation to the grassroots level by engaging our rangatahi to become the kaitiaki of our lands and multiply the impact by educating their whanau and beyond.

2017 - Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment (CAREX)

CAREX is a solutions-focused research programme aimed at improving freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem health in agricultural waterways and involves nine farm waterways from Rangiora to Hinds. The programme will look to develop the CAREX Freshwater Biodiversity Box with a dedicated set of sampling gear and resources that can be booked online and used by students of all ages, primarily through schools and community groups.

2016 - Arthur’s Pass Wildlife Trust

The Trust’s project, Predator Free Arthur’s Pass originated with the aim of monitoring and protecting the local population of Great Spotted Kiwi close to the State Highway through Arthur’s Pass Village. This project has built on initial success and widened its focus to help all local wildlife to thrive in the pristine environment of surrounding Arthur’s Pass National Park. The extensive trapping is ongoing and the Trust hopes to have Arthur’s Pass predator free well before the 2050 target.

2016 - 180 Degrees Trust

180 Degrees Trust is a charitable trust based in Christchurch which is passionate about improving outcomes for disadvantaged youth between the ages of 13-17 years. Each year, they undertake a Southern Alps Traverse Expedition, where the youth learn that they can achieve great things when they put their mind to it, and with the support of trained staff, build up their confidence, social skills, mental and physical fitness.

2016 - St Andrews School

St Andrews School Working Waters Trust features the conservation of the mudfish’s natural habitat by Year 7 and 8 students, with the wetlands becoming an outdoor classroom for the children. The ongoing project will include the re-establishment of ponds for the mudfish, planting and rehabilitation work.

2014 - Prebbleton Nature Park

For habitat restoration of a quarry into a well-used nature park in the heart of Prebbleton.

2013 - Hurunui College Nina Valley Restoration Group

For work to re-introduce and conserve Great Spotted Kiwi and restore the conservation values of the Nina Valley.

2012 - Department of Conservation Local Body Services

Building an innovative waste management system for Aoraki Mount Cook Village.

2011 - Ohau Conservation Trust

For work in promoting awareness, preservation and enhancement of the Lake Ohau high country.

2010 - Francis and Shireen Helps

For protection and enhancement of a white flippered penguin/kororā colony and habitat at Flea Bay.

2009 - Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group

For protection of indigenous birds and their habitat.

2008 - South Canterbury Branch, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

For work in regenerating native plant species at Conways Bush Reserve, Woodbury, Geraldine.

2007 - The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust

For their breeding programmes for the orange fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka and black stilt/kakī.

2006 - Arthur’s Pass Community Volunteers

For a community protection project on the great spotted kiwi/roroa.

2005 - Jim and Maryanne Morris of Ben Avon Station and The Mackenzie Alpine Trust

Jim and Maryanne Morris for involvement in the black stilt/kakī conservation; and, the Mackenzie Alpine Trust for their efforts in recreation in building a 14-bunk hut at the head of the Macaulay Valley.

2004 - Joe Waaka and Project Port Lyttelton Inc.

Arowhenua Marae for their long-term restoration of Awarua Creek and wetland next to the marae.

David Bundy and John Cleaver, from Project Port Lyttelton Inc, for restoration of an 1874 historic magazine building.

2003 - Ōtamahua/Quail Island Trust

For restoration work on Ōtamahua/Quail Island.

2002 - Rangitata Landcare Group

For work in weed control and restoration in the upper Rangitata River, South Canterbury.

2001 - The Gamma Foundation and the South Canterbury Conservation Trust

For work restoring Kakahu Bush near Geraldine, South Canterbury.

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