Mark Dean and the Hon Kate Wilkinson holding the Loder Cup
The Loder Cup was presented to Tauranga man, Mark Dean, at a function in Tauranga held by the Nursery and Garden Industry Association on Saturday 29 October.
He was nominated for the award by the association for his services to botany. Mr Dean is a former president and a life member of the association.
Chief executive John Liddle said Mr Dean's commitment was extraordinary. "When native plants were not fashionable, he championed their conservation. He has been a major driving force behind changes in industry and consumer attitudes."
Mark Dean and the Hon Kate Wilkinson
Minister of Conservation Hon Kate Wilkinson described him as a "conservation champion". "He has spent much of the past 30 years inspiring others as an adviser, teacher and role model both within the horticulture industry and in community conservation projects."
Mr Dean and his wife, Esme, set up their business Naturally Native 32 years ago, well before native plants were in vogue. When he set up his trade stand at the 1989 Fieldays he was greeted by grumbles of: "We've spent years getting rid of these plants and this clown wants us to buy them back. He must be mad!"
Naturally Native is now one of the biggest native plant nurseries in New Zealand. Its customer base includes farmers and rural folk alike, but that's not how Mr Dean measures success.
"My vision has always been for Aotearoa to look like Aotearoa, not a mini England or Japan. Botanists from all over the world admire our unique flora, and my vision has been to change New Zealanders' attitudes towards these plants. Slowly but surely this is happening and that's the legacy I feel most proud of," he said.