Southland’s environmental champions have been recognised at the 24th Environment Southland Community Awards in Invercargill tonight.
There were 30 nominees representing all corners of the region.
Those recognised by the awards were:
Woodlands Full Primary School – Environmental Action in Education – Winner.
In 2012, students from Woodlands Full Primary School planted 308 native riparian plants along the Waihopai River. Eight years on, this project has grown into an outdoor learning area that many in the community can enjoy, and students will be able to experience for years to come. Students have continued to plant trees, design insect hotels, introduce leaf cutter bees and test the water quality of the river. The improved water quality from their efforts has seen an increase of fish and birdlife to the area. This project has had an obvious impact on the environmental understanding and awareness of the Woodlands students, with many of them showing immense pride in the area. This well-established project has huge community support and a long-term future, with lessons incorporated in all areas of the school curriculum.
Jeff & Linzi Keen – Environmental Leadership in Farming and Land Management – Winner.
Jeff and Linzi Keen have a sheep and beef farm at Longridge North, Northern Southland. They have been making smart environmental decisions on their property long before it was the recognised thing to do. Striving to retain the environmental beauty of their surroundings they have fenced off large areas, excluded stock, and planted the area in natives. They have also worked with SIT students to develop a Wilding Pine eradication programme. Their holistic, environmental approach to farming includes the elimination of acidic fertiliser use and looking after their soil quality. Jeff has built up an understanding of multi-species crops, with the hope that different plant species will act as the nutrient for other plants, meaning the soil is not degraded. Jeff is a leader within his community and is willing to share his knowledge for the advancement of the industry.
Commended – Brian and Glennis Webster (owners) and Stuart and Kim Browning (managers).
Brian and Glennis Webster and Stuart and Kim Browning have a true passion for the land that they own and work. Full time dairy grazers in the Waituna area, the Webster’s have spent a number of years riparian planting to protect Currans Creek which runs through their property. They have also built a feed pad, as well as retired much of their land from winter cropping.
Sarah Thorne – Individual Environmental Leadership or Action – Winner.
Sarah works for the New Zealand Landcare Trust supporting catchment groups all over the region, but her dedication and passion for her work means she gives a lot of her own time to this role as well. Sarah’s passion for her work is contagious and through her encouragement, these groups have created wide-sweeping improvements across our rural landscape. During her time, the number of catchment groups has grown from 14 to 20. One of her success stories is the creation and delivery of the Southland Catchment Group Forum, which brings catchment groups together to share ideas and learn new skills. She is breaking down barriers between industries and encouraging groups to work together that may have worked in isolation in the past.
Commended – Kit Hustler.
Dr Kit Hustler is the Head of Science at Menzies College and is passionate about the environment, as well as helping his students succeed. Kit has introduced environmental activities into his classes including fish monitoring in local waterways. The students at Menzies are benefiting from his experience, while gaining valuable life skills, growing in confidence and learning to love the outdoors.
McCallums Group – Environmental Leadership & Innovation in Business – Winner.
There are not many businesses that can boast that they have achieved an 85% reduction in their carbon footprint while exponentially growing their business, but McCallums Drycleaning can. Faced with the decision to move away from oil and gas in 2008, McCallums made a future-proofing decision to move to wood energy instead of coal due to the rising concerns around carbon emissions. This was just the start for Wayne and his team. They have technology that enables water recycling, have made a move towards electric vehicles and are installing new equipment which should halve their water consumption. McCallums are driven to reduce their emissions every year and work closely with experts to measure their success. Wayne also sees the importance of sharing their story and what they are doing with the wider community so that others can follow suit.
Commended – Herberts Transport.
When understanding the weather conditions is an important part of your business, you want to have the best technology and that is what Herberts Transport have done. Herberts Transport are a rural transport company and spread by-products for Fonterra. In the last 12 months, they have developed a system which allows them to be extremely accurate with all their information such as soil moisture and weather conditions within a 24 hour period. These changes are ensuring that Herberts are operating at best practice, environmentally.
Munro Honey Co – Environmental Sustainability in Business – Winner.
A chance encounter with a member of the Bee Society led to the creation of Munro Honey Co, a newly established honey business based in Invercargill. The company ethos is ‘Better for the bees, better for the planet’. Steph from Munro Honey Co aims to run an ethical and sustainable partnership with nature and puts the environment at the heart of every business decision made. While plastic alternatives would have been much more cost effective, Munro Honey Co have chosen to take a sustainable stance when it comes to their business. This includes making wooden hive-wear instead of buying plastic, ensuring all her packaging is reusable, compostable and recyclable, and keeping the honey that they produce as natural as possible. Steph also has a large following for her business online and works hard to highlight the importance of bees, sustainability and the environment to the wider community.
Southland Environmental Advance Party – Environmental Action in Water and Land Management – Winner.
This recently formed group have hit the ground running when it comes to their plans and the action they are taking in their community. The Southland Environmental Advance Party is a group of like-minded deer farmers who are focused on recognising, understanding and reducing their environmental impact. Each member of the group has their own project such as water quality testing, creating sediment traps, fencing off critical source areas and planting out and creating wetlands. The Southland Environmental Advance Party have established strong and enduring relationships within this group, which contribute to positive outcomes on and off farm. They believe in having honest and frank conversations, which leads to better management overall. All farms involved have an established environmental plan and the group is being used as a model for the industry nationwide.
Commended – Wendonside Catchment Group.
This pro-active group, came together out of a desire to better understand the water quality in their catchment area. They have started a water sampling programme of mostly ground water and are self-funded through group membership.
Mamaku Point Conservation Trust – Environmental Action in the Community – Winner.
Mamaku Point Conservation Reserve is located on Stewart Island and is protected by a 2.1 kilometres biosecurity fence with an extensive predator control plan established. The area boasts over 127 native species and has the highest density of Kiwis per hectare.
Mamaku Point Conservation Trust took over the property in 2017 and they are working towards restoring the predator free status of the area. A big part of their overall goal is to make the reserve more accessible for the public through conservation education and eco-tourism activities. They are currently working extremely hard to re-establish the education centre and the space should be back to capacity by the end of 2019. With such a passionate group of people looking after this beautiful and unique area, we know it is in good hands.
Fergus Sutherland – Kaitiaki Tohu Pai – Winner.
Fergus Sutherland was the right man, in the right place, at the right time and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the work he has done protecting the habitat of the yellow-eyed penguins in the Progress Valley. Over 30 years ago, Fergus was visiting a farm while working in his role at Environment Southland. The farmer mentioned that he thought he had penguins living on the coastline of his farm. Fergus not only discovered penguins living there, but also that their habitats were disappearing to make way for farmland. Working with landowners and Forest and Bird on a local and national level, Fergus was instrumental in establishing the Te Rere Reserve. He continues to dedicate much of his time working on predator control, plantings, bird monitoring and unfortunately more recently, becoming more hands on with the care of the birds to ensure their survival.
Richard Bowman – Kaitiaki Tohu Pai – Winner.
With a passion for biodiversity, Richard Bowman has dedicated much of his life to looking after our natural environment. As the biosecurity manager at Environment Southland for a number of years, Richard has made a huge impact on our region. He was able to utilise his connections to contribute to many local projects, with a strong passion for helping people to help themselves. Richard has played an instrumental role in the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust. Richard saw the risks posed by the spread of Pinus contorta on Mid Dome and the impact it could have. He actively supported the development of the New Zealand Wilding Conifer Strategy which led to over $2 million of funding to the work on Mid Dome. He has also done his share of hands-on work, only missing a couple of volunteer workdays on the Dome since 2000. His leadership has truly helped others to succeed in their own projects.
Aparima College – Councillors’ Special Award – Winner.
Aparima College is an energised school with a vision and a plan. Having to cut down trees due to health and safety concerns, students and teachers saw an opportunity to create a space that was beneficial for both the school and the wider community. The project started in 2017 with a plan to create an outdoor learning environment. Community groups supported the project by helping to clear the site and begin planting. A successful application to the Treemendous fund was the cornerstone of this project, which resulted in the planting of hundreds of native trees.
Aparima College has not stopped there. They have recently become an Enviroschool, developed an Environment Council, created vegetable gardens, compost system and built a worm. They have a pest eradication plan in place and a further plan to build their outdoor learning into the curriculum to ensure long-term success.