Green Ribbon Award winners announced

  • Nick Smith

Nine individuals, businesses and organisations ­from Kaitaia to Otago have been honoured for making an outstanding contribution to protecting the environment at the annual Green Ribbon Awards announced tonight.

“These awards pay homage to those who have contributed positively to addressing environmental issues and inspired others to take action,” Environment Minister Nick Smith said.

“These awards fit very comfortably with the Government’s emphasis on practical initiatives that make a real difference to environmental challenges such as climate change, water quality, the protection of nature, and reducing waste. These problems won’t be solved by Government agencies such the Environment Ministry or the Department of Conservation alone but by businesses, communities and individuals showing local leadership.

“The nomination categories this year reflect the many different areas in which New Zealanders contribute to reducing the impacts people have on the environment.”

The 2009 winners are:

  • The Travis Wetland Trust in Christchurch for its successful restoration
  • Hawke’s Bay’s Garth Eyles for his work on land use capability and soil conservation
  • Ashburton District Council for its work on an eco-friendly subdivision
  • Tommy Long from Botany Downs Secondary College in Auckland, who established the first environmental awards at his college
  • Rueben Porter for initiating projects on environmental guardianship in Kaitaia
  • Ports of Auckland for its environmental monitoring and management
  • Ngati Whatua o Orakei for providing greater awareness of zero waste management at a free public concert at Okahu Bay
  • Horizons Regional Council for its WaterMatters website which enables the council to measure the amount of water being abstracted from river catchments
  • MAD4CO (Making a Difference for Central Otago) for organising a huge project to clean up the Clutha River as part of World Environment Day 2008.

“The Green Ribbon Awards are an opportunity for the Government to acknowledge the exceptional contribution New Zealanders are making to their environment,” Dr Smith said.

Green Ribbon Award winners and categories

Urban Sustainability

Winner: Travis Wetland Trust

Awarded for the Trust’s outstanding efforts to preserve and develop a wetland as a nature park in an urban area.

Since 1983 a group of volunteers have worked to save Travis Wetland – the last large freshwater wetland in Christchurch – from encroaching urban development, with the ultimate goal of setting it up as a nature heritage park for the education and enjoyment of both the local community and the city. The Trust’s volunteers and workers organised by the council, have worked to remove willows and weeds to ensure the wetland is protected. 

Planting has been carried out under a restoration plan and 57,000 plants have been planted over 10 years.  Planting native species is carried out by the council, schools, community groups and residential developers.  The park is used for recreation – walkers, joggers, amateur ornithologists and families share the track around the wetland.

The wetland has scientific benefit for the City’s universities and research institutions as a research site. Funding from the Community Trust has provided for an on-site education centre with lab and classroom facilities and a visitor information centre.

Sustainable Land Use                     

Winner: Garth Eyles

Awarded for his life long commitment to caring for our soil and encouraging others to adopt a more holistic approach to land management.

Garth’s life long commitment to caring for our soil places him at the forefront of land conservation and has made him one of New Zealand’s leading exponents on land use capability. 

His commitment to sustainable land use has been very holistic and his contribution to the natural environment of Hawke’s Bay has covered developing farm plans that match land capability to use; encouraging planting of unstable slopes and gullies to prevent erosion; encouraging tillage methods that avoid wind erosion; and identifying remnant wetlands while encouraging restoration and enhancement.

In 1979 Garth developed the Land Use Capability mapping system. He was a member of the Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board from 1993 to 1996 and in that time he was actively involved in the preparation of the Conservation Management Strategy for the then Hawke’s Bay Conservancy. He was also involved in the development of Management Plans for the Ruahine and Kaweka Forest Parks and the Te Angi Marine Reserve.

Making a Difference to Household Sustainability                       

Winner: Ashburton District Council: Albert Street/Geoff Geering Drive Eco-subdivision

Awarded for outstanding efforts to create affordable household running costs whilst minimising the impact households have on the environment.

Ashburton District Council’s Eco-Subdivision takes a whole-house approach to achieve affordable, comfortable, healthy and energy efficient homes.  The two objectives for the Council were to create affordability in household running costs and to minimise the impact households have on the environment.

The Council purchased the land in 1985 and commenced the subdivision in 2003.  The houses are built to promote energy efficiency using concrete floors, double glazing on all exterior fenestration, increased insulation, solar powered or geothermal hot water and on-site stormwater catchment facility for the purposes of garden irrigation.  The impact of stormwater is minimised through a unique design of the subdivision’s curb and channelling which prevents it from going straight into the groundwater. 

The Eco-Subdivision provides an outstanding example of the efforts a local authority can take to reduce the impact that households have on the environment. 

Community Action for the Environment – Young People          

Winner: Tommy Long

Awarded for his outstanding commitment to improving our environment. 

Tommy is a Year 11 student at Botany Downs Secondary College (BDSC) and is dedicated and committed to improving the environment.

He created and founded the first environmental awards at the college, which was originally based on his whanau house, Koru Whanau.

Tommy established the BDSC Environmental Council which is an association of all whanau environmental committees within the school.  The council is a whole-school based environmental council, assisting people to work together to address environmental issues, host events for the school and implement initiatives. The Council has an Environmental Cup, which Tommy implemented, for all levels at the school’s prize giving

Tommy is chair of the School’s Enviroschools group and in 2008 he represented Botany Downs Secondary College to receive the Bronze Enviroschools Award.

Community Action for the Environment – Volunteers and Not-for-Profit Organisations          

Winner: Rueben Porter on behalf of Nga Hapu o Ahipara

Awarded for his outstanding commitment to reintroducing a sense of guardianship and care of the environment to people in the Kaitaia area.

Rueben has initiated a number of projects aimed at reintroducing a sense of guardianship and care of the environment to people in the Kaitaia region.

His community work includes: regular workshops on gardening, co-hosting weekly radio talk-back shows over topical environmental issues, as well as providing free mentoring and gardening advice to local whanau and space to grow food at the Ahuwhenua site in Ahipara. He has also organised a hugely successful Mana Whenua gardening challenge – a marae based gardening competition for young people.

In 2008, Rueben and his wife taught a Treaty of Waitangi Workshop at the Far North Environment Centre (where Reuben is a trustee), as a means of improving the way trustees approach their environmental work with Maori. 

Rueben regularly monitors activity in the Kaitaia area to ensure hapu are represented and the environment is protected. He hosts school groups and regularly speaks on guardianship issues.  He also works with the Far North Conservation Corps and with hapu on whale recovery.

Businesses Making a Difference   

Winner: Ports of Auckland

Awarded for outstanding environmental management initiatives and leading by example.

Ports of Auckland has demonstrated a great track record in environmental management.

In 2008, the Port became one of the first in Australasia to measure and audit its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. It was the first New Zealand port to undertake an annual inventory and audit of its carbon emissions.

In addition to this, the Port has introduced a real-time monitoring system to identify ongoing opportunities for improvement and waste reduction in electricity and fuel consumption.

A major lighting efficiency programme has been set up in the Port’s premises. This has seen 1350 floodlights replaced with 650 environmentally friendly, fully shielded lights – reducing electricity use by lighting at the Port by an estimated 15 per cent.

This is in addition to the introduction of 35 hybrid diesel-electric straddle carriers – making the fleet the most environmentally efficient in New Zealand.  The new machines generate 90% fewer emissions, use 20% less fuel and make less noise than diesel-only models.

A rail connection between the inland port at Wiri, South Auckland, and the Auckland sea port to bring further efficiency to the supply chain, and to reduce inner city truck trips (and therefore carbon emissions) has also been introduced by the Port.

Environment in the Spotlight         

Winner: Ngati Whatua o Orakei

Awarded for its commitment to significantly raising the profile and awareness of zero waste management.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei collaborated with the Auckland City Council to host a free public concert at Okahu Bay on Waitangi Day focussed on providing greater awareness of zero waste management to an audience of approximately 30,000 people. The concert’s zero-waste policy encouraged people to consider the environment and to adopt a “pack-in, pack-out” attitude on the day – disposing of their own waste at home. 

In addition to the Waitangi Day event, Ngati Whatua o Orakei’s environmental vision includes a tree nursery and a tree planting project which every year plants 18,000 native trees.

Innovative Solutions for the Environment           

Winner: Horizons Regional Council: WaterMatters Website

Awarded for their efforts to improve water management in their region.

Horizons Regional Council’s WaterMatters website has transformed the way water information is captured, analysed and made available to the public. The website, which was launched in January 2007, enables abstractors, the council and key stakeholders to view how much water is being managed in catchments in near real time. 

The system is built to measure the amount of water being abstracted, and to then check how these volumes compare to the requirements of resource consent conditions. This information is essential to understanding what the flows would have been in the river had there been no abstraction. 

A key component of WaterMatters is to make it easier for consent holders to comply with their consents.  To enable this, a summary of all the relevant information about the consent is collated each day in a location that the consent holder can observe. This approach has resulted in improved management of water abstractions in the region.

Community Action for World Environment Day  

Winner: MAD4CO (Making a Difference for Central Otago)

Awarded for outstanding efforts to inspire their community to participate in environmental activities to celebrate World Environment Day.

The Sustainable Living Reference group (Sustainability co-ordinator at Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme, Waste Minimisations Officer at Central Otago District Council and Manager of Central Otago WasteBusters) developed ideas for a clean up of part of the Clutha River to celebrate World Environment Day 2008.

The group got other Central Otago organisations, including the Department of Conservation (DoC), Otago Regional Council, Central Excavating and Contact Energy on board, with each group taking responsibility for different aspects of the project and the MAD4CO project was born.  A bigger river clean up than originally planned evolved, as groups and businesses donated machinery and equipment, and more volunteers committed their time.

The big clean up took place on 4 June – the Contact Energy Team picked up 18 dumped car bodies from one side of the Clutha Mata-au River, while the team from Central Excavating did the same in the area behind The Pines plantation on the opposite side of the river.  On 5 and 6 June, volunteers moved in to collect the remaining dumped materials. 

Another group of volunteers went to a site on Boundary Road where 500 trees were planted in a buffer zone between residences and light industry.  These volunteers, led by DoC and Central Otago District Council, included many school classes and individuals.