Date: 23 September 2019
Commitment to kaitiakitanga is clearly plentiful in the Bay with well over 3400 volunteer work day equivalents contributed annually and more than 50 active community groups.
While these volunteers do what they do without expectation of reward, DOC wanted to take time to acknowledge and celebrate these conservation heroes; the award certificates noting recipients ‘… tireless efforts to protect our special places and taonga species are a priceless gift to future generations.’
Interspersed between the acknowledgement presentations were three speakers: plant expert and Loader Cup recipient Robert McGowan reflected on conservation in the past, BOP Conservation Board chair Ken Raureti spoke to present-day conservation, and DOC ranger and Ngāti Awa rangatahi (youth) Nikora Heitia shared his vision of the future of conservation.
Mr. Heitia’s speech focused on giving the rangatahi of today the opportunity to be involved and heard in the transition of the taiao [environment] they will inherit tomorrow. He highlighted the achievements of rangatahi in the area and challenged the leaders of today.
“Look to harness the potential of young people; build their capability for the future and give them meaningful opportunities to be involved today.”
The strength of the conservation community in the Bay of Plenty shone throughout the entire night. Attendees took time to share their struggles and triumphs with each other and connect over lifetimes of hours spent looking after the environment.
- Bill Kerrison for a lifetime effort in advocating and protecting tuna (eels).
- Danny Poihipi for being a lifelong advocate for te taiao – the environment and conservation, based around the East Coast.
- Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust for many years of amazing conservation efforts and restoration site which now extends over 500ha within the Kaimai Mamaku Forest.
- Whakatāne Kiwi Trust for their ongoing volunteer efforts over many years which have led to the protection and expansion of the kiwi population on the urban doorstep of Whakatāne and Ōhope.
- Kaharoa Kōkako Trust for over 20 years of community efforts to preserve and enhance kōkako in Kaharoa and now further afield.
- Tame Malcolm for his representation of a new generation of environmental leaders, that are social media savvy and not afraid to call out misinformation. He walks the talk, getting out in the forests sharing his knowledge with others, building passion and commitment to protect and restore the ecological integrity of our forests, and waters.
- Te Kura o Te Teko School for their Omataroa Texas Rangers education programme which sees all their Year 8 students participate in a hands-on conservation, kaitiaiki programme through the support of from Omataroa Rangitaiki No.2 Trust and Rayonier Matariki Forests.
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