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A highly successful Hawke’s Bay stream restoration project has taken out the top prize at the 2017 Green Ribbon Awards, announced tonight by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner.

“My congratulations to the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group for winning the 2017 Supreme Green Ribbon Award. This team effort over seven years involving iwi, councils and landowners has achieved significant improvements in water quality in the Whangawehi River and in protecting native plants and animals,” Dr Smith says.

“Specific achievements include 7.5km of fencing, 42 hectares of native planting involving 136,000 native trees, retirement of 5 hectares of native bush and carefully designed debris dams to retain silt beds. The benefits have been increased schools of whitebait, more abundant long fin eels and a 15 per cent increase in the recreational status of the water quality.

“This Supreme Award for a community-led waterway clean-up is important as it signals what is needed across thousands of rivers and streams across New Zealand. The Government’s target of 90 per cent swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040 is going to require 1000km of rivers be improved every year for the next 23. The Whangawehi Catchment Management Group is a powerful model of what is possible.”

Ms Wagner says the Green Ribbon Awards – now in their 27th year - recognise exceptional initiatives by individuals, communities, organisations and businesses to protect and manage New Zealand’s environment.

“This year we received close to 150 nominations – a significant increase on the last two years. We’re seeing a growing sense of personal ownership to protect our environment and native species for generations to come. 

“This is what the Awards are about – celebrating outstanding projects, building environmental awareness and inspiring all New Zealanders to get involved.”

The Green Ribbon Awards ceremony at Parliament tonight also included the presentation of one of the country’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup, to botanist Peter de Lange.

“The Loder Cup was first awarded in 1929 and is an important accolade for work to protect our native plants. We were delighted to award the cup to Mr de Lange this year in recognition of his significant contribution to our indigenous flora,” Ms Wagner says.

Category winners for 2017:

Minimising our waste: Webstar

Resilience to climate change: Port Nelson Ltd

Protecting our coasts and oceans: South Taranaki Underwater Club

Protecting our biodiversity: Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society

Caring for our water: Whangawehi Catchment Management Group

Business Leadership: Countdown (Progressive Enterprises)

Community Leadership: Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust

Leadership in communication and education: Zealandia

Kaitiaki Leadership: Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu

Philanthropy and Partnership: Taranaki Mounga Project Ltd

For more information on the Green Ribbon Awards winners and finalists please visit www.greenribbonawards.org.nz

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