The East Coast Hawke's Bay Conservation Board nominated Graeme Atkins the winner of the 2020 Loder Cup, with extensive support from iwi and plant conservation networks.
Graeme Atkins is a Ranger for the Department of Conservation, whose contribution to flora conservation goes above and beyond his employment. His work with iwi groups, landowners, scientists, and schoolchildren has made an outstanding contribution to Aotearoa’s native plants, particularly on the East Coast, a region which is relatively under-studied.
Graeme has displayed sustained excellence in botanical discovery, protected very rare plants (such as the white kakabeak / Ngutukaka, the native iris mikoikoi, and dactylanthus), and has fostered education programmes to continue a passion .
He has an excellent relationship with his local community, engaging through collaboration to achieve otherwise impossible outcomes; he is known on the Coast as the “Māori plant David Attenborough”. He is humble and compassionate, forming strong relationships with Māori and igniting a passion in our future generations to cherish our country’s fauna. He is a true kaitiaki for indigenous biodiversity.
Graeme is highly active and effective in rare and endangered plant recovery. His knowledge, passion, commitment, innovative thinking, leadership, and bravery shine through in this work. Just as he learnt from his grandmother, Graeme is passing on his knowledge as a tohunga to his children and, of course, influencing and teaching many others. His impact resonates way beyond his region.