An ambitious project aiming to restore native wildlife in the Bay of Islands has won the top honour in the inaugural Far North Go Green Awards.
The awards, presented at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel last Thursday night, are the brainchild of community group Russell Recyclers and seek to recognise the efforts of groups and individuals working to safeguard the Far North's natural environment.
Project Island Song, which brings together community group Guardians of the Bay, Rawhiti hapu Patukeha and Ngāti Kuta, the Department of Conservation and local landowners, won the supreme award.
The project started in 2009 and has so far eradicated pests, replanted forests and re-introduced locally extinct birds and reptiles such as the tīeke (saddleback), kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet) and Duvaucel's gecko on the seven Ipipiri islands between Russell and Cape Brett.
The trophy was accepted by project co-ordinator Richard Robbins, who said it reinforced the work of Project Island Song's many volunteers, staff, partners and backers.
Chief judge Ross Blackman, a Russell businessman, said choosing the supreme winner sparked much discussion but in the end Project Island Song won ''by a considerable margin''.
Project Island Song also won the good green idea category. Other awards went to Cliff Colquhoun of Kaitaia-based CBEC (outstanding citizen), Sea Cleaners (outstanding organisation) and Hukerenui School (outstanding school).
Claudine Maynard won the recycled fashion contest for a garment made from marine fittings and an old sail rescued from the dump. Siblings Ruby, 8, and Nico Tauri, 6, received a merit award for their korowai made from wool insulation salvaged from My Food Bag packaging.
Russell Recyclers chairman John Maxwell said the event's success exceeded expectations.
"Tickets to the event sold out six weeks prior which showed the Far North community embraced the concept to acknowledge the efforts by hundreds of people in the region who are literally cleaning up the environment,'' he said.
"Interestingly, three months after Russell Recyclers announced the Far North Go Green Awards, the Northland Regional Council revealed their own environment awards, which gives truth to the adage that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'."
The awards were judged by Russell residents Antonio Pasquale, Terry Greening, Ross Blackman and Alastair MacDuff, with the recycled fashion winners chosen by Janet Planet and Jayne Shirley. The MCs were Mayor John Carter and Ailsa Murray.
The awards received funding from the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board and Creative Communities. More than 150 people attended the event.