Last year Kane McElrea, the Northland Regional Council's biosecurity manager - partnerships and strategy, won the emerging leader category at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, in recognition of his work in forging sustainable community - and iwi-led biosecurity programmes, particularly to help protect Northland's kiwi.
And now his work alongside communities to tackle Northland's pest management problems has earned him the Brookfields Emerging Leader of the Year Award from the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), recognising him as someone under the age of 35 whose work has positively influenced community-based pest control initiatives.
SOLGM chief executive Karen Thomas said Mr McElrea's passion for and commitment to the local government sector stood out, and the judges had been impressed by the impact of his leadership in the region, as well as nationally through his work and connection networks.
"He is a well-deserved winner in a very tough field of applications," she said.
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Mr McElrea said he enjoyed being able to support and work with Northlanders in their communities because they were the heart of the council's efforts to restore and protect the region's shared environment.
"We're getting really encouraging results in a relatively short time – more kiwi and other native wildlife are returning to places where people are working collectively on pest control," he said.
"There's a lot of hard work going on at grass roots level right around the region, and it's great to see the positive results coming through."
Among the initiatives Mr McElrea introduced, or is part of, are Whangārei Predator Free, the Kiwi Coast/NRC Partnership, Tiakina Whangārei and Project Pest Control.
Council chairwoman Penny Smart says it was great to see staff recognised for their work in biosecurity, which was a vital part of the authority's work on behalf of the community.
"We have a very talented team working in this area, where a number of national awards have been won for innovative initiatives introduced in recent years," she said.
"This is such important work, and I'd like to thank all the people voluntarily engaged in the battle to protect our environment from biological threats, including invasive animal and plant pests and diseases. We couldn't do what we do without you."