NZPCN Award winners 2017

As in previous years, this year’s Plant Conservation Network awards span the full breadth of activity required to protect New Zealand’s native plants. The 2017 award winners are:

Young Plant Conservationist of the Year: Emilly Fan
Plant Nursery Involved in Plant Conservation: Glenbrook Nursery, Te Whangai Trust
School Plant Conservation Project: Rototuna Primary School, Hamilton
Community Group: Friends of the Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve
Local Authority Protecting Native Plant Life: Christchurch City Council
Individual Involved in Plant Conservation: Lindy Kelly
Special Award – Botanical Illustration: Eleanor Burton

Young Plant conservationist of the Year – Emilly Fan

Emilly is currently a Year 13 student at Takapuna Grammar School, Auckland. She is an avid environmentalist and has a particular interest in plant conservation. She has been the leader of the Takapuna Grammar School environmental group since 2015 and has organised numerous native tree plantings on school grounds. A few months ago she organised a successful moth plant removal at the
Waitemata Golf Club where there was a large infestation. She has also collaborated with the local Ben & Jerry’s store to create a community garden that featured many native plants. She is also a regular Motutapu Restoration Trust volunteer—ferrying over fortnightly to do nursery work, weed busting and tree planting. Emilly is a passionate advocate for plant conservation; spreading awareness at many national forums that she has been selected to attend as a youth delegate, including the Sir Peter Blake Youth Enviroleaders Forum, the Auckland Council Sustainability “Make a Difference” hui and the national Environmental Defence Society conference.

Plant Nursery involved in Plant Conservation: Glenbrook Nursery, Te Whangai Trust

Te Whangai Trust is a social enterprise that provides employment training for long-term unemployed people and at-risk youth at a native plant nursery. The organisation’s mission is to ensure disadvantaged people can create opportunities for growth while contributing their skills to the local community and environment.

Te Whangai Trust representatives receiving their award. 

 Founded 10 Years ago, Te Whangai Trust now has training hubs located in Miranda, Glenbrook, Pukekohe and Mt Roskill. These hubs have helped 1200 people increase their numeracy and literacy levels, financial capability, relationships and parenting skills. Over 1300 people have successfully undertaken court-directed community service work through Te Whangai. A pilot project focusing on high-risk offenders revealed 73% of those participating in Te Whangai’s planting programme did not re-offend. Te Whangai has built four nursery hubs that have grown and planted over a million native trees. The NZPCN received a nomination for Te Whangai’s Glenbrook team, noting its dedication to conservation and its appreciation of the natural environment. It was noted that “it is a common thing for these guys to give up their free time and often family time to get the job done”. They are very dedicated to their tasks—putting in a huge effort to restore and repopulate our forests, waterways, coasts and urban areas. 

School involved in plant conservation award: Rototuna Primary School, Hamilton

In 2017, Rototuna Primary continued to work on restoring the section of the Mangaiti Gully that runs through the school grounds. This project sees the children continue to develop their environmental knowledge, and strengthen their relationships with other gully restorers. Mangatiti Restoration Trust continues to motivate, encourage and actively engage in projects with the school. A joint community project with Gerard Kelly from HCC, Rex Bushell and his team, helped teach Team Kakapo to restore
a section of Mangatiti Gully behind Sovereign Isle. This saw over 140 children and over 30 adults working together to plant, release and learn. By developing a shared vision amongst local gully restorers, it fosters relationships between the school and community and helps the children to see the importance and relevance of their conservation achievements. Rototuna Primary School is very fortunate to have a visionary leader who saw a space that could be restored while connecting children with the environment. His dream was to see every child plant a native plant each year. Over the past 5 years, they have achieved that, growing over 1000 plants a year and having nearly 1500 children planting out saplings in our gully or with neighbouring gully  restorers. The children have benefited hugely by our programme, developing confidence in the outdoors, connecting it to all areas of the curriculum, building leadership and now adding their ideas to his existing vision. We thank the Local and Regional council, Enviroschool leaders, Kaumatua and the children for helping to make this dream a reality.

Community Group involved in Plant Conservation: Friends of the Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve

The David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve is located on Whitikahu Rd at Tauhei just 25 km north of Hamilton. It was donated by David Johnstone to be administered by a private trust for recreation and education, and to be available to all. Pukemokemoke means hill standing alone and was very much part of Maori traditional use, as a source of food, for rongoa, and as a stopover on a journey. Pukemokemoke was logged for timber in the 1940s and 1950s and was part of a working farm. At the time it was willed to the nation in 1990 by David Johnstone, it had stock on it, was full of weeds and various predators. The transfer of the property to a charitable trust in 1997 saw the beginning of a process of restoration of this 40 ha remnant of lowland native forest.

One of the first tasks of the new trust was to ensure safe access so a new concrete bridge was installed to give foot and vehicle access into the reserve. The reserve has the Mangatea Stream on its boundary and the removal of weeds along the stream and planting of 2500 native plants was an early achievement as a way of softening this boundary. Major weed species included honeysuckle, privet, gorse and pampas. All have now been successfully brought under control. However, the major infestation of privet was the greatest weed problem, with some 4 ha of solid, impenetrable privet to deal with. Within the last 20 years, all the weed difficulties have been reduced to minor problems and about 10,000 native plants have been introduced into the forest margins and flats to restore the forest to its former beauty and resilience.

The reserve has several kilometres of tracks and one track passes through a lovely stand of mature kauri. With the emerging problem of the root disease Phytophthora (kauri die back), the group chose to protect the stand from soil borne, footwear-transmitted infection by erecting a 400 m long raised wooden walkway through the kauri stand. Funds were provided by the Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council and the Tindall Foundation; all work was performed by the volunteer effort of the Friends of Pukemokemoke.

The reserve has become a favoured place for early morning runners and for all manner of recreation. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the group there are now well maintained tracks, a gazebo shelter and picnic shelter. One group of users that they are particularly pleased to host, are the five or more preschools who bring their children regularly to the bush as part of their outdoor education. To watch the way in which the children value the experience and are learning about the environment is something that the Trust especially values.

Restoration is an ongoing process and though they have been successful in removing most pests and weeds, the Trust sees the reserve as an ongoing experiment which is both educational and recreational. Many volunteers have contributed to the current success; funds have been supplied by local authorities, and the work goes on as we pass from a reconstruction phase into a maintenance phase. The reward is in the many happy faces of runners, picnickers and children who appreciate what a good piece of native bush can look like.

Local Authority Protecting Native Plant Life: Christchurch City Council with special recognition
of Arthur Adcock

Arthur Adcock has been a Christchurch City Council ranger for over four decades, first as a ranger at Spencer Park and latterly at The Groynes Regional Park. Arthur has a remarkable ability to use his role as the Groynes Park ranger to bring about catchment wide restoration and protection. Over the last decade he has knitted together City Council land, Environment Canterbury lease land, and private land owned by The Lady Isaac Trust, Island farm, small-holdings, and land leased to the Scout Association, into a cohesive, reforested corridor along the Otukaikino stream, a rare lowland Canterbury springfed stream. The Otukaikino bounds the northern edge of the Christchurch city and is prized for trout fishing. Arthur has been instrumental in successful applications to the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone committee and Fish and Game for funds to boost the Council spending on plants. Arthur has overseen the planting of almost 100,000 ecosourced trees, shrubs, toe toe and harakeke along the river. He has also installed almost 10 km of walkway that runs along the river through City Council, Environment Canterbury and privately owned land.

Arthur seeks advice. He is strict about eco-sourcing plants. He is guided by the Christchurch City Council landscape architect, Anthony Shadbolt, and ecological reports prepared for the Council. He has managed a rare population of Mazus novaeseelandiae subsp. impolitus f. impolitus (Threatened -Nationally Vulnerable, DOC 2012), and naturally-occurring wetland species Schoenus apogon, and Hypericum pusilum, Schoenus maschalinus, Carex flavicans, Carex maorica, and Gratiola sexdentata (all now rare in the Low Plains Ecological District), which requires mowing to keep the grass from shading out these low-growing wetland species. On private land, Arthur advocated fencing to enable differential grazing to reduce grass competition, i.e., high wires that allow sheep to push under while keeping cattle out.

Arthur has now convened a working group to guide the City Council park staff in the management of the Christchurch drylands. It is a testament to the force that is Arthur that he was able to get Council staff, Ecan staff, Wildlands, Ecan lessees, Lady Isaac Trust, private landowners, QEII Trust, and the Christchurch Airport environment officer together to start on guidelines to manage the City Council’s drylands. He has already planted out new bushes of Olearia adenocarpa.

Arthur is one of those rare people who can make things happen in a complex organisation and sweep along the people around him. From PD worker to scientist to the mayor, Arthur is fearless as he takes every opportunity to promote and resource the new forest on the edge of Christchurch and the Plains. We cannot imagine that anyone but Arthur would have been able to carry out a project of this scale and ecological integrity. The Canterbury Botanical Society toured the Groynes Park restoration in November 2015 to view the massive area of restored forest and the nationally threatened and uncommon wetland plants in flower.

Individual Involved in Plant Conservation: Lindy Kelly

Lindy was nominated on the strength of her vision for (and work on) the Kelly’s Bush restoration project. This project has been going now for 30 years. Kelly’s Bush comprises two parts; about 2.5 ha of original native bush dating from pre-European times which contains some rare and unusual flora and fauna, and has been declared an area of special significance by the local council. A further area of approximately 3.5 ha surrounding the bush and in the gully below it was a sea of gorse, old man’s beard, blackberry and banana passionfruit vine. Over the 30 years, Lindy and others have worked tirelessly to clear, develop, protect and preserve both areas; putting in trails, steps, bridges and picnic areas so they could share it with the public. When Lindy’s husband Joe was killed on the farm 8 years ago Lindy continued to keep the bush project flourishing.

Lindy has also put a lot of effort into engaging with kindergartens, primary, intermediate and high schools, and community groups such as Cubs, Brownies, walking groups and many other organisations to use and be part of the bush project. Raising awareness about New Zealand’s natural environment has been paramount in her work. She has written and had published a series of children’s books about the bush in English and Maori to share knowledge about its importance and to inspire children to care for their environment. She has also made CDs to accompany the books. The Kelly’s Bush project has helped with extensive conservation education in the region, not only with schools but also through the Conservation Rangers at NMIT. At open days held by Lindy at Kelly’s Bush over the last year over 200 people have come each time to walk, appreciate and admire the gem that has been preserved and that continues to be developed by Lindy who is also farming full-time. With the help of fundraising and local trappers, Lindy has made significant progress on weed and pest control. She propagates and grows many of the native tree species which she then plants in the gully. Each year, she plants around 1000 native trees herself. Lindy’s dedication, commitment, hard work and perseverance in protecting, developing and sharing the taonga that is Kelly’s Bush makes her a most worthy recipient of the NZPCN Individual Award for 2017.

Special Award for Botanical Illustration: Eleanor Burton

Celmisia petriei illustrated by Eleanor Burton

Eleanor has been employed by Wellington City Council in a part-time capacity for the last nine years. During this time, she has been based at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington, where she maintains the native-plant database. In more recent years, she has also spent time at the Wellington Botanic Garden, updating the database there and training colleagues to use the BG Base programme used by both gardens. Eleanor has been a member of the Wellington Botanical Society (WBS) committee for the last 7 years, including 2 years as vice-president. She is currently the Editor of the WBS’s bulletin, regularly leads fieldtrips, and volunteers at Te Papa, where she mounts and databases plant specimens for the herbarium.

Eleanor’s earliest interests lay in drawing plants. This interest under-pinned her choices of school and university subjects, at the same time recognising that botanical illustration on its own was not a very secure career choice. None of her qualifications or subsequent employments strayed far from her original objective. At Victoria University, Eleanor took a degree in Botany and afterwards trained
in arboriculture. During this time, she continued to draw plants, not only refining the observational and line-drawing skills needed, but acquiring in the process a well-organised set of sketch-books containing beautiful drawings of New Zealand plants. These were executed both in graphite and pen and ink.

In recent years, Eleanor has produced drawings on commission from the French Government for the Flora of New Caledonia by John Dawson, and has produced botanical illustrations for Wellington City Council for interpretation boards, illustrations for the children’s programme, and illustrations for the new Discovery Gardens soon to be opened at Wellington Botanic Garden. For the last 10 years, Eleanor has been working on a personal project to illustrate the New Zealand Celmisia genus, some members of which are yet to be fully described. In 2012, 25 of these colour-pencil illustrations were exhibited in the foyer of Conservation House, the Department of Conservation’s head office, Manners Street, Wellington. This exhibition served to highlight the diversity of Celmisia, and the particular
facility of a skilled botanical illustrator to bring out the unique character of each species.

As well as continuing to draw for her own reference collection, since 2000 Eleanor has provided botanical pen-and-ink drawings of the highest standard for most issues of Otari Wilton’s Bush Trust’s News and Views quarterly newsletter, and has done the same for the Wellington Botanical Society newsletter when requested. In 2012, a collection of her Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust newsletter illustrations was published with short descriptions of each subject. Since 2016, Eleanor has illustrated the cover of the New Zealand Botanical Society Newsletter. For each of these publications, Eleanor has provided freely and willingly of her time and expertise. The accuracy and elegance of her line drawings follow the ancient tradition of the best botanical illustrators.

This page last updated on 18 Sep 2019