A Hawke's Bay kiwi conservation leader dedicated to saving our national icon has been recognised at the 2019 Kiwis for Kiwi Awards, held at the annual National Kiwi Hui in Hawke's Bay.
Deb Harrington received a Good Egg award at the event, one of five given out.
Other categories also included Kiwi project of the year and Kiwi conservation image of the year.
Harrington said just hearing her name being read out among the list of winners was exciting.
"It was a surprise and I was blown away and quite humbled by the win. It's really a team effort and I feel the award acknowledges all the ECOED team, they're wonderful."
Harrington has been a volunteer with the Kaweka Kiwi Project for eight years. The project releases young kiwi into the Kaweka Ranges and monitors the birds alongside operating the Pan Pac creche at Lake Opouahi, a complete change from her previous career.
"In my previous life I was a business banker working for BNZ Partners, a bit of a far cry from what I do now with the kiwi project."
It is not uncommon for Harrington to do 12-hour days across rugged country managing the project's more than 30 kiwi fitted with transmitters.
This involves carrying out monitoring, health checks, egg collection, microchipping and releasing juvenile kiwi back into the Kawekas.
The biggest challenge of her job is the rough terrain and remoteness. After a 1.5-hour drive to the forest she then embarks on a two-hour walk into the park before she even starts her day.
But she says through all the long hikes and days she loves every moment of what she does.
"It's very satisfying work and a privilege to be able to do it."
The awards were created by Kiwis for Kiwi, an independent charity that supports hundreds of volunteers and private landowners across the country in their work to protect kiwi and their natural habitat.
Executive director of Kiwis for Kiwi Michelle Impey said the awards were created to acknowledge and thank the kiwi conservation projects, organisations and individuals who have contributed significantly to kiwi conservation.
"These passionate and dedicated people are the backbone of community and iwi conservation across New Zealand. Kiwi numbers are growing in areas where work is being done to manage their habitats. That is thanks to the thousands of volunteers and community projects that continue to work towards a predator-free and safe environment for kiwi," Impey said.
"These people are fundamental to the success of the national strategy to turn the 2 per cent decline into a 2 per cent increase. No one can do it alone."