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A group restoring Queen Elizabeth Park on the Kāpiti Coast, children from Raumati South School, volunteers working on pest trapping and monitoring in the Rimutaka Forest Park, and a project to redevelop the Royal Wellington Golf Course are among this year's Encore Awards winners.
The Wellington Regional Council, the Department of Conservation's Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservancy and the Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board developed the Awards to honour sustained commitment to environmental restoration, biodiversity and conservation in the Wellington region.
Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson said the efforts of volunteers, school children and businesses to improve the environment were an investment in New Zealand's prosperity.
"Our environment plays a central role in our health and well-being, and wealth. Our stunning natural environment and special places, which are part of our history and culture, draw thousands of overseas tourists to our country, creating 1 in 10 jobs and generating $20 billion for our economy.
"For the Department of Conservation, conservation leadership for a prosperous New Zealand means working together with all our communities and collaborating with other agencies to develop and share knowledge, tools and techniques.”
Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde said there had been some great biodiversity wins in the Wellington region at a local level as a result of communities taking responsibility for biodiversity on their patch.
"It's thanks to all of us working together – regional and local councils, the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board, and communities – that pest numbers in our region's forests are low, native forests are regenerating and much more forest is being planted.
"The most obvious success story is the growing populations of some of our native birds. Tui are flourishing, bellbird, whitehead, kakariki, tomtit and kaka numbers are increasing, and kereru are nesting in our region's parks and reserves."
Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board Chair Kevin Trerise said conservation volunteers in the Wellington region were gaining new skills in restoration planting, pest control, monitoring, marketing, submissions and fundraising.
"The result is that the region's conservation and restoration projects are becoming more sustainable. Seeing a degraded habitat brought back to its former glory with its former inhabitants – the native birds, insects, lizards and fish – and noting the fitness, good humour and camaraderie of those who make it happen… these are good incentives to get involved in a community conservation project. And what better way of lifting community spirit than working together to restore a local taonga for the enjoyment and wellbeing of future generations?"
Winner, School Environmental Project Award: Raumati South School Go Green Team
Raumati South's enthusiastic Go Green Team of children, school staff, parents, grandparents and Forest and Bird members, have developed and maintained fruit and vegetable gardens, replanted some 4,000 native trees and plants throughout the school, undertaken composting, and created habitats for weta and lizards. They're also conserving water by collecting rainwater in large tanks and pumping it around the garden.
Encore Awards judges said the Go Green students’ knowledge of conservation, the environment and biodiversity was impressive. The children had made amazing progress in a short timeframe.
Winner, Landowners Conservation Award: John Grant
John Grant's property of grazing pastoral land has been transformed with the help of well-known landscape architect Jacob De Ruiter. The land, bordered by stands of titoki, mahoe and kanuka, has been re-vegetated step by step, connecting areas of high ecological significance and creating a natural garden for birdlife to flourish.
Joint Winners, Excellence in Compliance Award: TIC Golf Projects Ltd & Royal Wellington Golf Club, for redevelopment of Royal Wellington Golf Course
Project contractor TIC Golf Projects and site owner Royal Wellington Golf Club have demonstrated an understanding of the environment surrounding the golf course site and the potential effects of works on it. Impacts of works have been minimised through excellent sediment control, extensive streamside plantings, wetlands to control stormwater runoff and improve the look of the site, and rock lining of a stream channel to provide for fish passage.
Daily monitoring is in place to check the effectiveness of erosion and sediment control measures, and the parties have communicated any changes to controls effectively and regularly. This has resulted in both parties having not only met but exceeded the compliance requirements for multiple consents issued by the Wellington Regional Council for this project.
Winner, Environmental Protection Award: CE Spray Collision Repairs
This Masterton company has developed a variety of practices to avoid environmental incidents and minimise its environmental impact, including installing a wash bay to keep sediment from the stormwater drains, providing spill kits, maintaining filters, painting the stormwater drains and using the water-based Enviropaint wherever possible. The company has made sure staff are aware of its environmental procedures, and staff take great pride in their workplace, including ensuring everything that can be recycled is.
Winner, Recreation Volunteers Award: Rimutaka Forest Park Trust
The Trust is protecting and restoring natural vegetation and wildlife in over 3,000 hectares of rugged, mountainous terrain. Its success owes a lot to dedicated volunteers who trap stoats and rats, track and handle kiwi, repair and assemble traps, conduct dog aversion training, and undertake weed control. Monitoring is showing a rise in numbers of whiteheads, tom tits, kereru, robins, and kiwis. The Rimutaka Forest Park Trust is well governed with strong community support and involvement, strong corporate support, and good long term prospects for outcomes that deliver public enjoyment and appreciation.
Winner, Kaitiaki Award: Ann Evans, Whareroa Guardians
Ann Evans' leadership has enabled the Whareroa Guardians to undertake significant environmental conservation and recreation development work at Whareroa Farm, with at least 36,000 native plants planted there since 2005.
An inspirational leader and doer, Ann gives countless hours of her time to planting, weeding, sourcing plants and monitoring. She also recruits, encourages, trains and retains a large volunteer group, and she applies her skills to fundraising, newsletters, and writing applications and legal documents.
In addition to a busy life as local community doctor, Ann Evans has a long-term vision and long-term goals for Whareroa Farm, and she is inspiring and encouraging others to share them and to be successful.
Winner, Community Partnerships Award: Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park
This Friends group has been protecting and restoring the park's valuable ecosystems for nearly a decade. Key areas of the park such as the remnant forest, the Marines Wetland and Whareroa Stream have been transformed through a massive 200,000 native plants covering 20 hectares. Valuable work is also being done to try to stabilise the dunes on the foreshore of the park.
The Friends have a long-term approach to improving the park's biodiversity with their strong vision guiding a long-term plan for the park, a Heritage Framework and a Sustainable Land Use Plan. Their strong leadership and advocacy has contributed to Queen Elizabeth Park’s environmental, conservational and recreational values.
Khandallah School Room 14 (School Environmental Project Award) for getting more children to use active transport to get to school.
Porirua City Council (Excellence in Compliance Award) for very good compliance surrounding the construction of Te Ara Piko, a pathway around the Pauatahanui Inlet.
Makara Peak Mountain Bike Supporters Club (Recreation Volunteers Award) for excellent work restoring the Makara Peak mountain bike area – an excellent example of conservation and mountain biking working together and a seedbed for other mountain biking/conservation projects in the Wellington region.
Upper Hutt Forest and Bird for its Hull's Creek Restoration Project (Community Partnerships Award) for making excellent progress transforming the stream and encouraging the return of aquatic animals and fish.