Leading New Zealand botanists honoured

  • Maggie Barry

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented New Zealand’s foremost botany award, the Loder Cup, to Neill and Barbara Simpson of Queenstown.

One of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup recognises outstanding work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish the country’s incomparable native plant life.

“Neill and Barbara Simpson truly deserve to be honoured with the presentation of the cup at the Green Ribbon Awards tonight,” Ms Barry says.

“Their tireless work to protect native flora and get others involved in looking after it has been an almost life-long journey.

“They are an outstanding couple who have worked with extraordinary dedication, and represent the very best of the New Zealand conservation movement.”

Among many other successes, the Simpsons were central to the reforestation project on the Lake Wakatipu islands from 2000, planting more than 40,000 native plants there.

Mr Simpson, a former DOC ranger, is an acknowledged expert on native plants and the effects of exotic pests on their ecosystem, while Mrs Simpson has introduced hundreds, if not thousands, of children to our natural world through successful school and community volunteer programmes.

“In the last few years they have focused their time and effort on forming the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust in Queenstown and establishing a community plant nursery in Kelvin Heights. It will provide food for native birds, plants for other conservation projects and educate children about the value of native plants, leaving a significant legacy,” Ms Barry says.

DOC Director-General Lou Sanson says the Simpsons show the best of the New Zealand conservation sector.

“From working previously with Neill and seeing his contribution continue well after leaving DOC, it shows the lifetime dedication some of our staff give to the cause of conservation.”

Neill and Barbara Simpson were nominated by the Otago Conservation Board, supported by the Southland Conservation Board.

The Loder Cup was donated by Gerald Loder to the New Zealand Government in 1926 and first presented in 1929.