Kindergarten NRC’s supreme Environmental Award winner

24 May 2019, 8:06 AM

A small rural kindergarten near Whangarei has shone above almost 40 other finalists to take out the supreme award at the Northland Regional Council’s inaugural ‘Environmental Awards’ Thursday, 23 May.

Comrie Park Kindergarten, a 44-pupil Matarau-based facility 15 minutes from Whangarei, has a long-time passion for environmental sustainability and its head teacher Anna Alexander, the kindergarten’s staff and the rural community it supports are thrilled with the win. The kindergarten also won the awards’ Environmental action in education category.

The regional council awards are designed to recognise and celebrate kaitiakitanga in action and highlight the ‘can-do’ attitudes and remarkable contributions large numbers of Northlanders from all walks of life are making to help our environment thrive.

Council Chairman Bill Shepherd says roughly 200 people had attended the awards, held at Whangarei’s Barge Showgrounds Event Centre.

More than 90 nominations were received, with 39 finalists shortlisted for one of eight award categories on offer, as well as the ninth ‘Supreme Award’ presented to Comrie Park Kindergarten as the most outstanding entry.

Chairman Shepherd says the council is pleased with – and excited by – the interest the awards have generated and hopes to make them an annual event.

“Nominees represented a truly diverse cross section of Northland and included individuals, groups and community group leaders, iwi, farmers, forestry and schools.”

“My fellow councillors and I really appreciate the effort that people have put into making these inaugural awards such a success – and in particular all those who made nominations – and look forward to growing these awards in the years to come.”

An initial 93 awards nominees had earlier been shortlisted to 39 finalists by a four-strong panel of external experts and internal staff; Chris Jenkins (local environmental champion and a former Department of Conservation veteran), Mike Kake (representing the Tai Tokerau Maori and Council Working Party) and council staff Don McKenzie (Biosecurity Manager) and Tess Dacre (Compliance Monitoring Manager).

A full list of finalists in each category is available from the council’s website at but the winners in each category were:

  • Environmental action in the community; Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island Society (FOMLI)
  • Environmental action in pest management; Puketotara Landcare Group
  • Environmental action in education; Comrie Park Kindergarten
  • Environmental action in water quality improvement; Whitebait Connection
  • Environmental action in industry; Hancock Forest Management NZ - Northland Office
  • Environmental leadership; Iwi Te Roroa – Waipoua Forest
  • Environmental innovation; Steve Allan
  • Kaitiakitanga; Noho Taiao, Te Rarawa Anga Mua

The winners in each category receive a $1000 cash prize and trophy, with Comrie Park receiving an extra supreme winner’s trophy it can hold for one year.

Chairman Shepherd says a public field day will be held later this year for winners to share their knowledge and experience and showcase their work with the rest of the community.

The Comrie Park Kindergarten team.

The Comrie Park Kindergarten team… named supreme award winner at the Northland Regional Council’s inaugural ‘Environmental Awards’. Kindergarten head teacher Anna Alexander is pictured far right, next to council chairman Bill Shepherd. Ms Alexander is holding the supreme winner’s trophy created especially for the event by Korotangi Kapa Kingi.