Meet the 17 winners of the 2019 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.
|Education||Business||Community||Land management||Dairy farming|
Category sponsor: Contact(external link)
Moturoa School - For empowering students to take action to build a sustainable community.
Moturoa School’s Beach Guardians are doing much more than regularly clearing plastics and other waste from Ngāmotu Beach, as important as this task is. They’ve also analysed what they’ve collected in their regular beach clean-ups and taken action to prevent more of it arriving. For example, they worked with the organisers of the popular Colour Run along the Coastal Walkway, resulting in a cleaner event generating minimal plastic rubbish and paint residue. The students also recycle and re-use what they find, with very little sent to landfill. Moturoa was the region’s first Enviroschool and plays a strong environmental leadership role. It has a rain garden to purify water, students’ lunchboxes are largely plastic-free, and stationery use has been minimised or substituted with eco-friendly options. Students also advocate for the environment in the community.
Omata School - For inspiring students to be guardians of their local environment and restore the native habitat.
Students at Omata School are making outstanding efforts to ensure Taranaki's native biodiversity is protected and can thrive. This includes predator and pest-plant control, and improving habitats. They conducted a BioBlitz to identify species in the Omata School Bush. As a result they are establishing lizard lounges, setting up bird feeders, targeting predators and ensuring native invertebrates have good habitats. They also set up an Omata School Bugs page on the iNaturalist website to keep recording and identifying invertebrate species. Meanwhile, they have been analysing hours of live video footage from the Egmont National Park boundary to detect signs of predators. Taranaki Mounga Project uses these findings to target predator control. The students are also spreading the word about Towards Predator-Free Taranaki, which has had a strong uptake in their community.
Ngamatapouri School - For using innovative technology to understand the local environment and to inform their community.
The 12 pupils at this remote school are working as scientists, technical innovators and researchers as they come to grips with their community’s No 1 threat, flooding. With funding support from the Curious Minds citizen science project, they’re using drones and digital technology to help them monitor the state of the Waitotara River and develop a local flood warning system. Students have learned correct operating procedures so they can conduct regular drone surveys of the river. Combined with data they collect manually and the TRC’s monitoring data, this is giving them detailed knowledge of factors affecting the river’s quality and flow. Now they’re working with a technical specialist to develop a digital alert system for use by the whole community. Pupils are also learning about the river’s cultural and historical significance.
Category sponsors: Govett Quilliam(external link)
Vickers Quarries Ltd - For proactively minimising environmental risk and maintaining high environmental performance.
The 36-hectare Vickers quarry at the top of York Road is one of the region’s largest. It is also the strongest environmental performer. It takes meticulous care to prevent waterways being choked with sediment-laden stormwater, which is one of the biggest environmental risks of quarrying. The well-maintained Vickers quarry has good bunding to redirect stormwater to a well-designed treatment system that includes several large settling ponds. Shut-off valves at the discharge points offer a further layer of protection. Vegetated riparian margins also act as sediment buffer zones, filtering sediment and further reducing the impact on waterways. The outcome is impressively clean wastewater discharges that maintain the water quality and integrity of the aquatic ecosystems of the Waitara catchment. The company sets the bar for environmentally sound quarrying in Taranaki.
Drone Technologies NZ - For developing innovative monitoring technology and inspiring students to connect with their environment and community.
Ben Plummer, of Drone Technologies NZ, is involved in a wide range of environmental and educational activities in Taranaki. These include predator detection, freshwater-quality monitoring, pest-plant monitoring and coastal environmental mapping. Ben goes above and beyond his brief, providing quality drone footage, adapting methods to suit requirements and teaching TRC staff and school students how to use the technology. The environment and education in the region have benefited greatly from Ben’s knowledge and input. Examples include equipping a drone with infrared camera and spotlight to detect possums in the Kaitake Ranges, teaching Ngamatapouri students to use a drone to monitor water clarity, working with Waitara High School students to map seagrass meadows on Orapa Reef, and surveying pest plants along the Waingongoro River. Ben is a talented educator and enthusiastic environmental supporter.
Corteva Agriscience - For environmental stewardship above consent compliance and engaging with local community and hapū to protect the local environment.
Corteva Agriscience has built on an already excellent record of ensuring no stormwater leaves its Paritūtū site without careful checks to ensure it is good enough for the Lower Herekawe Stream and coastal waters. It has introduced extra safeguards to add strength to its environmental management system. Formerly known as Dow AgroSciences, the company proactively sought out views of Ngāti Te Whiti hapū and consulted neighbours before starting on the latest improvements. The project included boosting the capacity of the site’s stormwater holding area. This required excavation near a wāhi tapu site. At the hapū’s suggestion, the soil was used in landscaping and gardens on-site. Corteva Agriscience also helped to establish the Herekawe walkway, and staff take part in clean-ups of Herekawe Stream and Back Beach.
Category sponsor: Methanex(external link)
South Taranaki Forest & Bird - For actively protecting and restoring native biodiversity through collaboration with landowners, community groups, organisations and schools.
Members of South Taranaki Forest & Bird are working to protect and restore native biodiversity at two privately owned sites east of Eltham, trapping predators including possums, goats, mustelids, feral cats and rats, and eliminating pest plants across 1,000 hectares. The sites provide habitat for western brown kiwi, long-tailed bats, kārearea (NZ falcon) and toutouwai (North Island robin). Forest & Bird members maintain huts at each site and encourage community groups and school students to connect with the environment. They are also working with Rāwhitiroa School to restore a wetland that’s a habitat for mudfish. This area will become an outdoor classroom for all schools. South Taranaki Forest & Bird also collaborates closely with other groups and agencies. Previous projects include extensive flax plantings along the coast between Ōkato and Manaia.
Kaitake and Oākura community - For outstanding efforts to control predators and restore the native biodiversity of Kaitake by all working together.
The Kaitake and Oākura community is a stunning example of an entire populace pulling together to achieve a common goal. They’ve made Towards Predator-Free Taranaki their own by trapping predators in back yards, on farms, in reserves and in the Kaitake Ranges. Besides individuals, support has come from local organisations including the Kaitake Community Board, Restore Oākura Community Group, Oākura School, Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust, Oākura Pā and the Oākura Beach Holiday Park. For example, the Trust has had a big influx of new members to help it manage about 200 predator traps in rugged terrain. The community is well on the way towards establishing a 4,500-hectare possum-free zone stretching from mountain to sea. It’s New Zealand’s first such effort on this scale and locals are proving it’s more than a dream.
Katie Sinclair - For incredible enthusiasm for protecting and improving the local environment and inspiring others to take positive action.
Katie Sinclair walks the talk as an enthusiastic advocate for the coastal environment, organising and conducting beach clean-ups around Opunake, analysing the source of rubbish and debris, encouraging community action and supporting like-minded organisations. The 18-year-old works under the banner of Healthy Oceanz, which she established as a school Young Enterprise Scheme project two years ago. She has since devoted much of her own time and resources to the cause. She is active on social media, with Healthy Oceanz pages on Facebook and Instagram. Katie is committed and thorough. Up to 3000 items have been collected in a single clean-up event, and she has even cleared tiny micro-plastics from the sand. She takes every opportunity to share her enthusiasm and explain what she’s learned about rubbish and its effects on the coastal environment.
East Taranaki Environment Trust - For working with the local community and iwi to control predators, reintroduce kōkako and increase the kiwi population.
Precious kōkako are back and thriving in the eastern Taranaki bushland thanks to years of careful planning and hard work by the East Taranaki Environment Trust. It also inspired support from the community, iwi, corporates and environmental groups and agencies. The kōkako are just the latest of the Trust’s achievements. Starting with one block where kiwi were detected in 2004, it now covers 13,000 hectares of public and private land, where intensive predator control has taken place and continues. Kiwi numbers are increasing at around 9% a year, and more than half the kōkako released so far are nesting. Other species doing well include North Island fernbird, tūi, pōpokotea (whitehead), kārearea (NZ falcon), tītipounamu (rifleman), toutouwai (North Island robin) and long-tailed bats. It’s a shining example of a community-led environmental initiative.
Kevin Stokes - For outstanding advocacy and voluntary effort to protect and restore native biodiversity and kiwi populations.
Few people in Taranaki know as much as Kevin Stokes about the habits of kiwi, and where and how they may be found. This experienced and fit bushman devotes 200 volunteer hours a year to the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and other groups, often taking leave from his paid job to do so. As an accredited kiwi handler, he’s deeply involved in Operation Nest Egg. He locates kiwi eggs, takes them to Rotorua for hatching and brings chicks back for release in Taranaki. He also monitors the location and health of released kiwi, and even acted as midwife on one occasion when an egg started hatching during the trip to Rotorua. Kevin’s enthusiasm for the cause is infectious, and he’s warmly regarded as a teacher and mentor who offers many practical suggestions and tips.
Category sponsor: Corteva AgriscienceTM Agriculture Division of DowDuPont(external link)
David and Karen Peat - For environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat restoration.
David and Karen Peat have been tackling soil erosion for 25 years on Mangapapa Station, their 3,500-hectare sheep and beef farm in the Waitotara Valley. The property includes 1,400 hectares of virgin and regenerating bush, and 30 hectares of wetlands. They grow and plant 500 to 1000 poplar and willow poles a year to stabilise slumps and protect stream gullies. This prevents erosion of grazing land and reduces fence and track maintenance. They have planted 7,850 poles in the past 17 years under their TRC farm plan. Six of the property’s 21 regionally significant wetlands are protected by QEII covenants and four kilometres of fencing. They’re important habitat for nationally threatened species including weweia (dabchick), North Island fernbird and pūweto (spotless crake). David has planted 10,000 native plants around the wetlands and controls predators.
Scott and Julayne Thompson
Ngamatapouri Land Company Ltd - For environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat restoration.
Scott and Julayne Thompson keep the environment in clear focus as they develop the production potential of their leased 2,700-hectare Rimunui Station in the Waitotara Valley, where sheep and beef graze on 610 hectares of pasture. Under their TRC farm plan, they’ve already planted more than 5,000 poplar and willow poles to stabilize grazing land and provide shade and shelter for stock. They’ve also worked with many agencies and the landowner to permanently retire more than 800 hectares of native bush, mānuka and land suitable for reversion. This provides diversified income from proposed long-term carbon offsets and mānuka honey production. The Thompsons have done most of the 13 kilometres of fencing themselves. Wetlands are also being fenced and planted to protect and improve native biodiversity. Ngamatapouri School has been involved with wetland planting.
Tim and Sue Hardwick-Smith
Kohunui - For environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat restoration.
The Hardwick-Smiths have adapted management practices to suit different land types across their 1,500-hectare sheep and beef farm at Mangamingi, guided by their TRC farm plan. Flats and low land are farmed more intensively and 630 hectares of hill country is farmed sustainably. Poplar poles are planted to control erosion and swamp areas are not drained. Native forest is regenerating on 550 hectares of marginal or erosion-prone land, with another 108 hectares in production forestry. Working with the Council and South Taranaki Forest & Bird, they are protecting and restoring the 400-hectare Totara Block, made up of regenerating native forest including a small kiwi population. The Hardwick-Smiths, also voluntarily carry out predator control, with support from the Taranaki Kiwi Trust, to widen the protection on other parts of the farm.
Category sponsor: Fonterra(external link)
Streamline Limited Partnership - For environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.
Paul & Susan and Shawn & Joanne England run a 146-hectare dairy farm at Manutahi that is a showcase for farming practices to protect waterways on terrace country. Fencing and planting waterways and wetlands has been their priority since 2009, with all 5.1 kilometres fenced and only 360 metres left to be planted. Riparian strips are wider than normal between the steep gullies and pastures on the top flats, reducing the intensity of farming next to the riparian margins and providing additional protection to the streams. The Englands have also protected small wetlands and a regionally significant wetland system on the property. Fencing off larger riparian areas has allowed natural regeneration of seeps and a spring feeding into the Mangaroa Stream. Dairy effluent is disposed to land and the Englands voluntarily control possums.
Rex and Janice Carroll - For environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.
Rex and Janice Carroll are dedicated to improving freshwater quality and encouraging native biodiversity on their Midhirst dairy farm next to Egmont National Park. Since 2008, they’ve fenced and planted nearly 6,500 native plants along more than 30 kilometres of streambank and drains. To protect the national park, they prefer only plants endemic to the ecological area. The riparian margin keeps stock out of waterways, cuts down run-off and encourages native biodiversity. The Carrolls have voluntarily turned marginal swampy areas into wetlands, forming what is now a regionally significant wetland. Pockets of native bush have also been included in riparian margins to further improve habitat for native wildlife. An old rubbish heap unearthed during this work has been cleaned up. Possums and hares are controlled, and dairy effluent is disposed to land.
Oākura Farms Ltd - For environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.
More than nine kilometres of stream banks and wetlands have been fenced and planted at Oākura Farms as a result of the long-term commitment of owners Coral and Norton Moller. Now sharemilkers Sophie Parker and Matt Thomas and the current team are going back to enhance and expand protective margins around streams and wetlands. This will further improve the quality of streamwater that discharges to Oākura Beach. Environmental commitment is evident across the farm. Their effective predator control earned a zero possum count in the latest survey, while Graeme Churchill is also trapping mustelids and rats. They re-use water and use fertiliser carefully. Bale wrap and plastic drums are recycled and dairy effluent is disposed to land. They’ve also worked with neighbouring Kaitake Golf Club to establish robust boundary planting.