Two decades of tireless work by two small hapū to restore Rākaumangamanga (Cape Brett) has been recognised with the two small hapū involved named supreme award winners at this year's Northland Regional Council Whakamᾱnawa ᾱ Taiao - Environmental Awards.
Patukeha and Ngāti Kuta also won the kaitiakitanga category when the second annual awards were livestreamed via Facebook on Thursday night.
The awards recognise Northlanders' valuable environmental work, in the case of Patukeha and Ngāti Kuta' their efforts to reduce pests and restore bush and birdlife at Rākaumangamanga.
The judges noted that as kaitiaki, the hapū had endured many changes and challenges.
Regional council chair Penny Smart said 28 nominations had been received for the awards, which recognised and celebrated the "can-do" attitudes and remarkable contributions people from all walks of life made year after year on behalf of the region's environment. Entry had been open to all sectors, including individuals, community groups, schools, tangata whenua, businesses and leaders, whose projects, activities and contributions were located within Northland and demonstrated significant benefit to the region's environment.
The winners, in seven categories were as follows.
* Environmental action in the community - Friends of Rangikapiti, which was bringing communities and cultures together to restore maunga and bush at Rangikapiti, a former pā site on a headland above Mill Bay/Mangonui, to its original state.
* Environmental action in pest management - the Bream Head Conservation Trust, which was leading a community effort to restore the biodiversity values of a headland through sustained and intensive pest control.
* Environmental action in industry - United Civil Construction, for delivering a major civil works project (the $182 million Ngāwhā geothermal plant) in an ecologically sensitive environment without adverse environmental effects.
Highly commended - HC PossumMan Petfoods, for thinking outside the box and turning unwanted possum carcasses into pet food, creating a valuable commodity from possum trapping and in turn helping to improve the environment.
* Environmental action in education - Portland School - Te Kura o Tikorangi, for environmental mahi embracing tree planting, water quality testing and pest control that showed what could be achieved when a community came together with a common and lasting goal.
Highly commended - Kerikeri Kindergarten, which was creating an opportunity for children to explore and discover the ngahere where they could play, learn new skills and reconnect with Papatūānuku, their natural environment.
* Environmental action in water quality improvement - Dragonfly Springs Wetland Sanctuary, where Jeremy Busck had worked since the 1990s to transform 6ha of junk-filled swamp into a wetland and educational asset.
Highly commended - Dargaville Intermediate School, for its continued commitment to working collaboratively to improve the water quality of the Kaipara Harbour through growing, supplying, and assisting with riparian planting.
* Environmental leadership - Ian Wilson and John Dawn, who, together with the Puketi Trust, local iwi and neighbouring land owners, oversee trapping in more than 5000ha of Puketi Forest.
*Kaitiakitanga (and overall (Te Tohu Matua) - Patukeha and Ngāti Kuta hapū.
Highly commended - Whaea Mina Pomare-Peita, for her longstanding dedication to education and developing future leaders through the use of Mᾱtauranga Mᾱori, sharing her knowledge and wisdom with whᾱnau, mokopuna and tamariki so they can uphold her vision.
Each category winner received a trophy, certificate, and a $1000 cash prize.