Pride of NZ: Proud to undo the damage

He was a farmer and developer, now Ian Price is a determined fighter for the environment

Ian Price was an Auckland residential property developer, until he had a complete life change in the early 2000s.

"I had enough to live on, and I had a change in philosophy. Instead of chasing money, I decided to give something back."

So he moved to Tiritiri Matangi, off Whangaparaoa Peninsula, where he worked as a Department of Conservation ranger for three and a half years.

He had earlier been involved in the restoration of Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Nelson beckoned, and Mr Price, 57, turned his hand to another ecological restoration project, this time at Paremata Flats, at Cable Bay, 25km from Nelson.

As a co-ordinator for Forest & Bird, Mr Price has driven efforts to develop the 35ha nature reserve, through intensive native tree planting, weeding, and pest eradication.

Mr Price was nominated in the Environment section of the Pride of New Zealand Awards, for his work at Paremata Flats. He was a winner for the South Island region, and will join 23 other finalists at the national awards presentation in Auckland on September 10.

Over six months, the local Forest & Bird branch raised $83,000 and put in 36,000 trees.

He describes that planting as the "easy part" but it is the ongoing management that takes the effort.

"Over 2000 hours have gone into weeding alone."

Before he moved to Auckland in 1987, Mr Price owned a sheep and beef farm in the King Country.

"As a farmer you are driven by growth and increased production and I look back at what I did as a farmer, and, frankly, I did a lot of damage.

He has become a lot more aware of the natural environment through ecological restoration projects.

"From a personal perspective, it is about easing my conscience to a degree, the damage I have done, and I am trying to give something back."

Murray Ogg, who nominated Mr Price, says he has an amazing way with people.

"Ian draws in people of all ages and gets them involved."

Mr Price said it was a great community project, with children as young as 4 involved in the pest eradication.

Voting is now open for the TSB Bank People's Choice Award. The Herald will profiling each of the 24 national finalists. Voting closes 11.59pm on September 7, with the awards to take place on September 10. Decide who you think is the most deserving. You are only able to vote once, so choose wisely. You can register your vote here.

* For more awards information, visit: prideofnzawards.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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