Fifteen years of hard work from volunteers and the community has resulted in a prestigious award for a local scenic reserve.
The Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust won the Biosecurity Award's Department of Conservation Community Kahiwi Award for established projects/initiatives category for 2020.
The award is open to individuals and groups including community and sporting groups where the project, initiative or body of work has been established longer than 18 months.
They must demonstrate new initiatives/programmes that continue to demonstrate biosecurity is at the heart of work being undertaken and highlight what has been achieved in the past 18 months.
Sanctuary manager Simon Collins says the award is a big achievement for community-led projects.
"This is the first national award Rotokare has received of this calibre. It's exciting to be recognised on a national level for the efforts from the community. It's important to demonstrate to other community-led projects they can also achieve this."
The Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust is a community-led conservation-based charitable trust, started in 2004. Initially the trust aimed to raise $30,000 for pest control, but within four years the predator proof fence was successfully funded and built.
Twelve pests species within the fence have been completely eradicated, leading to the return of rare threatened species including the kiwi, tieke/ saddleback and hihi/ stitchbird.
Simon says the award recognises the contribution from volunteers and the community for over 15 years to the sanctuary.
The trust was one of 27 finalists in the awards chosen from 70 entries. Simon says he attended the awards ceremony on November 16 in Wellington with Rotokare conservation manager Fiona Gordon and trustees Allen Juffermans and Deborah Clough.
"We didn't know we were the winners until our name was called out. It was very exciting to see community organisations recognised alongside other biosecurity industry leaders."
Speaking at the ceremony, Simon acknowledged by the other category finalists.
He said the four accepted the award on behalf of the community, volunteers, and supporters who have supported Rotokare since the beginning.
"We acknowledge and thank the following for long-standing support since the beginning including South Taranaki District Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Ngati Tupaia hapu, and Ngāti Ruanui iwi, TSB Community Trust, Taranaki Electricity Trust, Department of Conservation and we also thank all of our funders, supporters, collaborators, and mates in conservation."
He said the project's success was due largely to a few core values.
"Our values are people and community always come first, leadership comes from all parts of our organisation from grassroots to governance, keep having fun, to be bold
and extremely ambitious, and never give up on aspirations."