Environmental action in the community

Community category winners in the 2022 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.

Category Sponsor: Methanex(external link)

Sustainable Taranaki - for outstanding contribution to promoting sustainability in Taranaki and educating and encouraging communities and individuals to make lifestyle changes which benefit the natural environment.

Sustainable Taranaki’s programmes reflect its mission of inspiring people to play their part in handing a vibrant environment to the next generation. Recognising people are key to environmental action, Sustainable Taranaki works with the community to protect the region’s unique taiao (natural world). Community gardens in Hāwera, Marfell, Glenpark and Glen Avon provide a safe space to learn and connect. The annual Sustainable Backyards Trail gives people invaluable ideas on how they can go greener in their own gardens. Programmes like Let’s Compost, Te Ara Taiao, workshops and tours at The Junction show people how to be more sustainable while the SAVE scheme helps people save on their power bill and make healthier living choices. Sustainable Taranaki is all about collaboration, building links with other community groups, councils, businesses and people to educate about ways to boost sustainability and preserve the environment.

Jacob Waterman - for actively championing the diversion of waste from landfill and the increase in recycling at major events.

Jacob Waterman is walking the walk when it comes to Zero Waste by helping people to cut down what they throw away when seeing live bands at the Bowl of Brooklands. Where once tonnes and tonnes of trash would go to landfill after big events, he’s helped oversee a step-change in diverting waste and boosting recycling. His first Zero Waste event was 8,500 people watching Toto at the Bowl and his work alongside other New Plymouth District Council staff and volunteers saw 95% of waste kept out of landfill. He has educated and led more than 100 staff and volunteers who help concert-goers make the right choices then work tirelessly to pick up litter after events. The Venue Services Supervisor at NPDC continues working as a Zero Waste hero out of work too, regularly joining his family for weekend litter pick-ups.

Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare - for outstanding advocacy and efforts to protect and restore western brown kiwi populations.

Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare (TKKR), a partnership between the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, was set up to help stop the decline in North Island western brown kiwi numbers. They established a kiwi kōhanga (nursery) at the predator-proof fenced Rotokare Scenic Reserve in 2012 with the goal to establish a sustainable population to populate other sites helping restore viable, genetically diverse populations of kiwi in Taranaki. There are now more than 200 kiwi at the kōhanga and the TKKR goal was realised in 2020 when the first birds were relocated to the Totara Block in nearby Mangamingi. The absence of mammalian predators at Rotokare has allowed the kiwi population to thrive and the partnership employs a Kiwi Ranger to monitor the birds at the kōhanga. TKKR works closely with iwi, hapū, sponsors, volunteers and other conservation groups and after three years of translocations, have contributed kiwi to both Taranaki Mounga and the Kaitake Range and another kiwi kōhanga in the Waikato. Releasing kiwi outside the kōhanga is an excellent way to highlight the project’s success and teach tamaraki and the wider public about not only kiwi conservation, but also biodiversity and the benefits of becoming predator-free.

Ka whakaaraara te tangata, ka whakaora te wai, ka whakahoki te taonga - for outstanding advocacy and voluntary efforts in restoring natural habitats of taonga species at mahinga kai sites along the Waiwhakaiho Awa and empowering rangatahi to take environmental action.

Ka whakaaraara te tangata, ka whakaora te wai, ka whakahoki te taonga is restoring natural habitats of taonga species at mahinga kai sites along the Waiwhakaiho Awa (river). From Taranaki Maunga to the moana, the Ngāti Tawhirikura Hapū and Te Atiawa Iwi project is reconnecting whānau with their ancestral awa and restoring the Waiwhakaiho River catchment. Led by the hapū, 2021 alone saw 6.8 hectares planted with 15,000 plants while locally sourced seeds from species native to the area are grown in a newly-created nursery. Combining mātauranga Māori with a science-based approach, the project has provided a great training opportunity and jobs for the rangatahi involved. Jobs for Nature funding has helped to grow the initiative from voluntary beginnings to a catchment-wide restoration project and the initiative provides a safe space for rangatahi to learn new skills. Predator control is also a key part of the project. Collaboration is important to the project’s success with the hapū working with Taranaki Regional Council, New Plymouth District Council, Trees That Count, Rotary, schools, local businesses and Department of Conservation while Domino’s Pizza has provided kai for the hard-working rangatahi.


Brian Gasson - for incredible enthusiasm for protecting and improving the local environment and inspiring others to take positive action.

Parts of Ōpunake have been transformed thanks to the mahi of Brian Gasson and the volunteers he has inspired from around the South Taranaki township. What was once a weed infested area popular with fly-tippers near the Waiua Stream is now a beautiful entranceway planted with native trees and shrubs. The mahi by Brian is restoring the native ecosystem and eradicating weeds which is helping native fauna to return. Brian has co-ordinated planting at an old dairy factory in the township and Hurst Park and is a driving force behind eliminating invasive weed species around the Ōpunake Loop Trail. Key to the success of Brian’s work is his people skills which has helped motivate volunteers to clean up areas, pull out weeds and plant native species. Collaborations include St Joseph’s Primary School, Ōpunake High School, the local Lions Club, Ōpunake Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Fonterra and the local community. Brian has worked with Taranaki Regional Council while Enviroschools have used the restoration projects as a way to educate tamariki from the local schools.