NRC’s environmental awards will go ahead

18 May 2020, 10:55 AM

The Northland Regional Council will press ahead with its second annual 'Whakamānawa ā Taiao - Environmental Awards' – albeit in a scaled-down fashion – determined to recognise Northlanders’ valuable environmental work.

Chair Penny Smart says many people had made a real difference to the region’s environment over the past year and, despite the adversity of the last few months and the twin challenges of drought and pandemic, had continued to so.

“It’s important that this very valuable mahi is recognised, not just when times are good, but perhaps even more-so when things are so much more challenging.”

She said the council had received 28 applications for the awards when an official nomination period closed on 22 March, less than a third of the 93 nominations made for the inaugural awards last year,

“In large part, this can be attributed to the issues and associated uncertainties we’ve been preparing for and facing for during the application period.”

Similarly, the operating climate meant council staff had also not been able to promote the awards to potential applicants as thoroughly as they would have liked.

However, despite the challenging conditions and after careful consideration, the council had determined the awards should proceed, albeit in a reduced fashion more appropriate to the current situation.

Councillors noted the awards were designed to recognise and celebrate kaitiakitanga in action and highlight the ‘can-do’ attitudes and remarkable contributions so many people from all walks of life made year-round and year-after-year to help the region’s environment.

The council’s members had made a specific point of reiterating the value they attached to the awards during a recent remote council meeting.

A decision to cancel a planned awards celebration that would have been held at Kerikeri’s Turner Centre 28 May, had already been made early last month due to the pandemic response.

Instead of a large-scale event (last year’s awards night had attracted about 200 guests) the winners would now be announced via traditional and social media in a few weeks’ time and the council would then aim to showcase the work of these organisations later as the region found its collective feet again.

Entrants had been open to all sectors including individuals, community groups, schools, tangata whenua, businesses and leaders. Projects, activities and contributions had to be located within Northland and demonstrate significant benefit to the region’s environment.

This year’s awards were designed to recognise environmental action in:

• kaitiakitanga.
• the community
• pest management
• education
• water quality improvement
• industry
• leadership

The council says given the limited number of applications received in each category, finalists had not been announced in advance of the awards (as had happened last year four weeks before the awards ceremony itself).

Instead a category winner (and a highly commended if appropriate) would be named, as well as an overall ‘Te Tohu Matua - Supreme Award’.

Chair Smart says a presentation of trophies, certificates and $1000 cash prizes to winners will be done in a small, in-house presentation which meets any relevant pandemic conditions at some point in the future.

“The Supreme Award winner will receive an additional trophy they can hold for one year.”

Carved wooden trophies.
Environmental Awards 2019 trophies.