Date: 10 September 2012
The Department of Conservation Coastal Otago Conservation Awards this year recognise a Dunedin woman for her outstanding biodiversity work on Otago Peninsula, a blue penguin colony for maintaining a successful breeding habitat, and a transport manager for helping protect a rare worm.
The passion and dedication of all of the finalists is a true reflection of the 2012 Conservation Week theme, ‘Love New Zealand’ and on Monday night (September 10), the Department of Conservation acknowledged this commitment at the annual Coastal Otago Conservation Awards in Dunedin.
DOC Acting Otago Conservator Alan McKenzie said the awards honour the great work of people who go the extra mile for conservation.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate Otago’s 2012 conservation champions who have shown how much they love New Zealand and who work hard to conserve and protect the special things that make our country, and our backyard, unique,” Mr McKenzie said.
He said the quality of the award finalists was again outstanding, making it difficult for the Otago Conservation Board to select just three finalists.
This year’s award recipients are:
Winner - Moira Parker
As a founding member of STOP (Save the Otago Peninsula) and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Moira has played an active role in native biodiversity restoration programmes on Otago Peninsula for over 30 years. She helped establish the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust nursery in Company Bay, played an active role in weed control, campaigned for the purchase and restoration of Harbour Cone, and is a member of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group.
Runner-up - The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
The colony is Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction, with over 75,000 visitors a year viewing its 130 breeding pairs of blue penguins, but it still manages to maintain a successful breeding habitat, undertake important blue penguin research, and fit sensitively in with the environment and the penguins.
Welfare of the penguins is constantly compared to those at the nearby wildlife reserve and weekly monitoring ensures they are minimally affected by the large number of visitors to the colony.
Award for special recognition - Simon Underwood
Projects Team Manager, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA)
Simon and NZTA have proved that a large construction project can still meet conservation needs. Thanks to their sensitive approach, part of the forest habitat of peripatus (or velvet worms) in Caversham has been protected from being destroyed by the upgrading of State Highway 1 through the area. Simon and NZTA accepted that peripatus is a special and unique animal. They worked hard to resolve issues and find a good outcome which will provide conservation benefit to peripatus while allowing the motorway to proceed.
Toroa Award finalists
Winner - Mosgiel Central Kindergarten
At this kindergarden, children aged between 2-5 years are on a sustainability journey, learning about recycling, composting and growing their own berries, fruit, vegetables and herbs. The centre has engaged the community through holding parent education events. The environment benefits from their sustainable actions, as does the health and wellbeing of the children and their families.
Runner-up - Waitahuna Primary School
Students from this school have been investigating how soil and water quality in their community is affected by excrement from farm animals. Their results show how aquatic life is affected and how different farming systems produce different results. Every student in the class lives on a farm and they plan to share their results with the local and international community.
Highly commended - Otago Girls High School
For the past ten years, students from this Enviroschool have been investigating the impacts of the invasive seaweed undaria around Quarantine Island. Their study has led to some interesting conclusions about the impacts on the environment and how they can be managed. They are currently working on a public presentation of their findings.