Award winners

Meet the 14 winners of the 2018 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.

EducationBusinessCommunityLand managementDairy farming

Environmental action in education

Category sponsor: Contact(external link)

Highlands Intermediate Marine Studies Group - for inspiring students through marine education and action.

Highlands Intermediate Marine Studies Group

These budding marine biologists do more than just learn about Tapuae Marine Reserve. They roll up their sleeves and take action to protect it. They’ve removed large amounts of rubbish from the reserve, while studying the impact of litter on marine life there. The 27 students and their inspirational teacher, Pat Swanson, developed a Curious Minds citizen science project called Project Litter to find out where the rubbish comes from. The students also carry out independent research about marine species and their habitats. They are knowledgeable kaitiaki for the North Taranaki coastal environment. The Highlands Intermediate Marine Studies Group works in partnership with numerous community groups and agencies including the Taranaki Regional Council.

Coastal Taranaki School Native NZ Bird Inquiry - for outdoor learning and action to restore and protect native biodiversity by removing predators.

Coastal Taranaki School Native NZ Bird Inquiry

After field trips to find out about native birds and the threats they face, these teachers and students are putting into practice what they’ve learned. They used tracking tunnels, chew cards and wax tags to monitor predators at Ōkato’s William Corbett Scenic Reserve. This helped them decide where to place 10 traps, and they caught 37 rats in the first week. They use online tools to record and analyse their catches and feed their results into national datasets. They have embraced Taranaki Regional Council’s Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project. They’re spreading the word in the community and even building their own traps and monitoring gear. The Coastal Taranaki School students are also removing pest plants at the reserve, under the guidance of teachers Margaret Normanton, Karla Jorgensen and Shelley Cook.

Francis Douglas Memorial College - for removing predators and pest plants to restore native biodiversity at Paritutu Centennial Park.

Francis Douglas Memorial College

More than 150 Francis Douglas students are taking practical steps to control predators and restore biodiversity at Centennial Park in Paritūtū, and the nearby Ngā Motu/Sugarloaf Islands. They built and installed 150 predator traps at Paritūtū, and they continue to monitor and check them, under the guidance of teacher Tina Dalliston. Their work assists native species including blue penguin, seabirds, threatened plants and lizards. It also reduces the chance of pests infesting Ngā Motu, which is part of the iconic Taranaki Mounga restoration project that extends out to the coast. The students gain a practical understanding of biodiversity, develop practical skills and become familiar with online technology to record and analyse trapping results and pest plant locations. They work closely with hapū, community groups and agencies including the Taranaki Regional Council.

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Te taiao me te pākihi – Environmental leadership in business

Category sponsors: Ngāruahine(external link), Ngāti Ruanui(external link), Te Ātiawa(external link), Taranaki(external link) and Ngāti Mutunga(external link)

MAIN Trust - for providing resources, data management systems and support for environmental groups in Taranaki.

MAIN Trust

This charitable trust helps community-based groups manage data and use it to plan their campaigns, attract funding and analyse the results. Presented well, data can have a dramatic impact, as shown by the ‘cat maps’ produced as part of the Tracking Fur Babies project to raise awareness of how family pets roam. These maps are an excellent example of the use of tools and specialist knowledge provided by MAIN Trust that include running an online GIS to support environmental groups and citizen science projects. MAIN Trust supports many agencies and schools on a range of projects, often in a voluntary capacity. The Trust was a founding member of Wild for Taranaki. It also manages the websites of several environmental projects in the region and leads the development of new projects and services.

GreenBridge Ltd - for designing sustainable landscape and environmental solutions for land, homes and communities in Taranaki.

GreenBridge Ltd

How do you lay out a lifestyle block or an orchard to promote a healthy, spray-free environment? How can you create a public space that encourages users to connect with each other, or design healthy small footprint homes? GreenBridge is a three-person social enterprise that helps people find answers to questions like this. Its most high-profile design project is New Plymouth’s new Resource Recovery Centre at Colson Road. But it’s been involved in more than 110 projects for community groups and householders. It all started when Bena Denton and Daniel Woolley were developing their own property. They realised that many others wanted guidance and assistance to create healthy and sustainable places to live and work. Bena and Daniel founded GreenBridge to help people find small-scale solutions with large-scale impacts. GreenBridge also gives back to the community through sponsorship and education.

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Environmental action in the community

Category sponsor: Methanex(external link)

Marlene Benson - for protecting and enhancing the natural environment as kaitiaki and a volunteer for numerous successful biodiversity and conservation projects.

Marlene Benson

This hard-working volunteer and botanist has given thousands of hours to help Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga achieve their environmental aspirations. Marlene Benson is tireless in her volunteering and always ready to help with any and every task. She is modest about her experience and expertise and is always willing to share her knowledge with others. She serves as a trustee for Tiaki Te Mauri O Parininihi Trust, helping to guide it to its successful achievement in bringing kōkako back to Taranaki. Marlene also involves herself in a wide range of other environmental activities including dune plantings and beach clean-ups. She is a true Taranaki kaitiaki.

Tony Green - for volunteering and advocating to restore and protect native biodiversity through numerous successful conservation projects.

Tony Green

Tony Green is a dedicated volunteer for a range of conservation groups and projects in Taranaki. These include Te Whenua Tōmuri Trust, the Native Forest Restoration Trust and the Taranaki Mounga Project, among others. Tony contributes many hours per month labouring, monitoring or doing whatever is needed. He often travels long distances to do so. He also does valuable work in advocacy and education, sharing his knowledge and the high-quality photos he takes wherever he goes. He has the knack of being in the right place at the right time to capture Taranaki’s rare and special wildlife on camera.  He has also taken some great photos of the people who are passionate about them.  Tony is a great role model for conservation volunteering in the Taranaki community.

Angela and Gary Walls-Renwick - for actively championing urban backyard trapping to remove predators and restore native wildlife and plants.

Angela and Gary Walls-Renwick

Angela and Gary Walls-Renwick have seen first-hand the benefits of predator control, and how easy and enjoyable it can be. They have become champions in their community to restore and protect native wildlife and plants in their area. It started when they wanted to do something about possums in their large QEII-covenanted property bordering the Huatoki Stream in New Plymouth. They went to a Wild for Taranaki predator-control workshop and set up a variety of traps around the property, learning as they went. Beyond their own boundaries, they are also active in the Huatoki Conservation Group and are community champions for Taranaki Regional Council’s Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project. They promote trapping to the community, and assist people to set up traps and record their data.

Cynthia Mooney - for longstanding volunteer work to control predators to restore and protect native biodiversity at Sandy Bay Reserve.

Cynthia Mooney

Cynthia Mooney is a true guardian of Sandy Bay Reserve near Opunake. She volunteers hundreds of hours to protect native birds, lizards and dune vegetation. Over the past year, Cynthia has upskilled herself in predator control and has caught many possums, hedgehogs, rats, stoats, weasels and feral cats in the reserve. She also raises awareness of nesting shorebirds among beach users and removes litter off the beach when birds aren’t nesting. Sandy Bay is a valuable habitat for threatened wildlife including the goldstripe gecko, New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel, white-fronted tern and variable oystercatcher. They are all vulnerable to introduced predators and sensitive to the impacts of recreational activity. Cynthia’s voluntary efforts are outstanding. She is modest about her achievements and is always thinking about more ways to protect the reserve.

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Environmental leadership in land management

Category sponsor: Corteva AgriscienceTM Agriculture Division of DowDuPont(external link)

Roger Pearce - for environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat restoration.

Roger Pearce

Fences, poplars and bees … these all help Roger Pearce to make a successful living while not bringing nature’s anger on himself, or on anyone downstream. He’s ensuring soil from his 2000ha Waitōtara Valley property does not erode into waterways, where it would degrade water quality and heighten flood risk.  Roger’s put up nearly 9km of fences to retire steep land, and let 120 hectares revert to mānuka or bush.  He’s also planted 1000 poplars or willows as poles to stabilise other areas, and he’s protected a wetland with fences and 1500 native plants. He’s done all this using his Taranaki Regional Council farm plan, and with assistance from the Council’s STRESS hillcountry erosion programme. Sheep and cattle numbers are unchanged and now he’s producing mānuka honey, and may earn carbon credits.

Hansen Family - for environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat restoration.

Hansen Family

The Hansen family’s commitment to the environment is evident at both of their hillcountry properties, where they fatten beef cattle and sheep. They have planted poplars and willows as three-metre poles to stabilize grazing land, planted production forestry and retired steep unproductive gullies. Fencing stock from native bush and wetlands allows native vegetation to regenerate and provide habitat for native flora and fauna. The Hansens are also fencing wetlands and remnant kahikatea swamps and a large area of indigenous bush. Their work is guided by their Taranaki Regional Council farm plans at both their properties, which are in Huiroa and Matau. The farm plans help them decide on the wisest use of their land, based on its physical capabilities.

Prof B Clarkson, Dr J Rapson, B Hammonds, L Honnor and J Hunt - for supporting native ecosystems by producing a series of guides for restoration planting in Taranaki.

Prof B Clarkson, Dr J Rapson, B Hammonds, L Honnor and J Hunt

This group’s achievements are shining examples of teamwork and commitment for the good of the environment. They have produced five detailed Restoration Planting Guides. There’s one for each of the Ecological Districts that are in or partially in Taranaki.  The Guides were created from scratch and the team worked hard to create a robust and valuable resource. This included painstaking research, the distilling and refining of information, debates and rewrites. They liaised widely with scientists, community experts and local people. The results are well worth all the effort. Native planting brings many benefits, including greater biodiversity, more habitat for a wide range of native wildlife, soil stabilisation, better water quality and a sense of place and New Zealand identity. These guides are already in wide use and will stand the test of time.

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Environmental leadership in dairy farming

Category sponsor: Fonterra(external link)

Robert and Diana Bridgeman - for environmental stewardship including riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.

Robert and Diana Bridgeman

Rob and Di Bridgeman have planted nearly 5000 native plants and erected fences to protect 3km of streambank and a small wetland on their Ōkato dairy farm. It all started in 2010 when they and the Taranaki Regonal Council developed a Riparian Management Plan for the 58-hectare property. At their peak, the couple were planting 1000 plants a year, in a coastal locality where little native vegetation remains. Rob and Di have now completely implemented the riparian plan, well ahead of the region’s 2020 deadline. Fencing streambanks keeps stock out of waterways and vegetation helps to trap and filter run-off from pasture, and improves stream biodiversity. The Bridgemans were also early to adopt land-based effluent disposal. They make minimal use of nitrogen fertiliser, and are actively involved in the Self-Help Possum Control Programme.

Stratford Demonstration Farm Society (Inc) - for agricultural education and environmental stewardship including riparian, wetland and native habitat enhancement.

Stratford Demonstration Farm

The Stratford Demonstration Farm has led the way as the region’s dairy sector adopts environmentally sustainable farming practices. It demonstrated the value of streamside fencing and planting, as one of the first properties with a Taranaki Regional Council Riparian Management Plan. Adjacent waterways are showing notable improvement. The farm is used for education and training, and has undertaken many trials of different feed inputs, fertilisers, stocking rates and stock and soil management techniques. These are aimed at achieving good production returns in the most efficient and sustainable manner. The farm was established in 1917 and is currently leased to Dairy Trust Taranaki. The property is next to Stratford township and incorporates land owned by Stratford High School. It has made its banks of the Patea River available for public access along the Carrington Walkway.

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