Two Auckland women will travel to Hawke's Bay to work alongside locals on the Cape to City project in February.

Rachel Cooper and Alice Ward-Allen both won Blake DOC Ambassador awards for the Hawkes Bay Landscape-scale Ecological Restoration project which was based on Cape to City.

Cape to City is a programme that manages pest invasion. It spans 26,000ha between Hastings and Cape Kidnappers, and extends southwards to include Waimarama and forest remnants at Kahuranaki.

Both students brought diverse skills from either end of the country. Miss Ward-Allen recently completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in zoology and ecology at the University of Otago. Miss Cooper was studying environmental science and geography at the University of Auckland.


Miss Cooper said she felt privileged to be given the opportunity to spend time in Hawke's Bay. "I'm excited about working with DOC and I'm looking forward to learning more about the environment."

Miss Ward-Allen said: "Conserving our environment and making people aware of what's happening in our own backyard is so important."

Both women would work to set trap and bait stations, monitor and feed kaka, prepare petrel nest boxes, and monitor other native birds. Neither of them were new to voluntary conservation work, however, Miss Ward-Allen had worked with other pest eradication and conservation programmes across Otago and Miss Cooper was already involved with a three-year science scholar's programme at the University of Auckland. She also raised $10,000 for a Sherpa friend in Nepal and is now raising funds for Shree Nepal Primary School following the recent earthquake.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust worked with a number of partners each year to provide opportunities to people aged 18-25. Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive officer Shelley Campbell said the programme was "unique".

"It gives our Blake Ambassadors the opportunity to access expertise and opportunities that are very rare at this point in their studies or career."

Ms Campbell said: "It's the quality of the programme, the participants and our partnerships that make it so successful."

Blake DOC Ambassador awards were awarded to 14 people this year. To be eligible to receive a Blake Ambassador Award applicants must be 18-25 years old with leadership potential and have demonstrated a passion for the environment. Applications for the 2016 awards would open in April 2016. Both young women would share their experiences and people could follow them by searching #BlakeAmbassadors.