Department of Conservation Biodiversity Ranger Scott Theobald, who started his career in Northland and was one of three men killed in a helicopter crash on October 18, has been honoured at the Public Service Day Awards.
Theobald was awarded the State Services Commissioner's Commendation for Frontline Excellence in the awards on Monday night.
Scott (Scotty) Theobald was a legend for the work he carried out, including as a world pioneer in the use of dogs to detect predators.
Theobald, his colleague Paul "Hondy" Hondelink and their pilot Nick Wallis were on their way to undertake tahr control in the Haast area when they died.
Theobald had raised a family near Dargaville, was a skilled hunter, bushman, dog trainer, conservationist, adventurer and all-round good guy. His funeral service and cremation was held in Whangārei last weekend.
Theobald started working out of Twizel in pest eradication in 2010, and since 2015 was based there as a senior DOC ranger.
He joined DOC as a ranger for the Kauri Coast in 1996, after working in various outdoors jobs. Theobald was a world pioneer in the use of dogs to detect predators, starting at Trounson Kauri Park detecting stoats in 1998.
From that early work he developed the National Predator Dog programme in 2000, based in what was then called the Northland Conservancy.
This grew into the nationwide Conservation Dogs Programme which combined Pest Detection Dog and Protected Species programmes.
Theobald's wife Adriana Theobald, who also works for DOC, accepted the award on his behalf at an awards ceremony at Parliament in Wellington on Monday.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage paid tribute to Theobald and his pioneering work in developing the conservation dog programme, which plays a pivotal role today in New Zealand's predator control work.
"Scotty, as he was commonly known, epitomised what is meant by the Spirit of Service," Sage said.
"Though many doubted it was even possible, Scott persevered to successfully train New Zealand's very first predator dog to catch ferrets and stoats. He endured tough and remote environments that often took him away from home for long periods of time.
"Dedicated to protecting our precious environment from pest predators, Scott saw a need and created a solution that is now internationally recognised and soughtafter," Sage said.
"Scott was driven by his passion for his work – work that is recognised internationally.''