Matangi resident Peter Morris has won the Waikato region’s first ever Weedbusters awards.
Mr Morris was nominated for his work converting six acres of weed-ridden gully to native bush near the Mangaharakeke Stream in Matangi. He won the private land category, but also took out the overall award for his outstanding achievements. His forest wetland ecosystem, which took years to create, is now flourishing, home to native birds and insects.
Mr Morris has generously shared his knowledge and expertise with the community through workshops run by the University of Waikato. He has also allowed ecologists from Environment Waikato and other agencies to study his property.
Environment Waikato Weedbusters coordinator Wendy Mead said Mr Morris’ passion and dedication had been factors in his win, along with “the sheer amount of work” he’d put into the project, and his willingness to help others.
“Weed work is often seen as the least glamorous part of native restoration work, but it’s one of the most important things to get right,” Ms Mead said.
“It’s great to see people who are willing to put in a lot of voluntary time into fighting weeds and taking the initiative to improve our environment and special places.”
Other winners were the South Waikato Branch of the Forest and Bird Society and the Maungatautari Planting/Weeding Team, who took joint honours in the public land category.
The South Waikato group has been working to spray and clear weeds and plant native trees at the Jim Barnett Scenic Reserve and Jones Landing, while the Maungatautari team has been contributing to the Maungatautari Ecological Island project on mountain slopes south of Lake Karapiro.
The Oputere Residents and Ratepayers Association won a special prize in recognition of its work to clear privet from public land and private properties in the Coromandel area.
All winners will receive a framed certificate and a gift basket of goodies to help them battle weeds.
“Weeds are recognised as one of the major threats to New Zealand’s biodiversity, damaging the environment, degrading areas of significance to Maori and costing more than $100 million a year to manage,” Ms Mead said.
“Everybody can make a difference to the problem, even through small contributions like clearing weeds or taking care with what they plant and where.
“I commend everyone nominated for this year’s Weedbusters awards for their hard work and dedication to improving our environment.”
Nominations for the awards came from all over the region and were judged this week by a panel of representatives from Hamilton City Council, Forest and Bird and Waipa District Council.
Weedbusters is a nationwide awareness programme that encourages New Zealanders to take action against weeds and pest plants. It is supported by regional councils, including Environment Waikato, the Department of Conservation, unitary authorities and other organisations. Biosecurity New Zealand, Biodiversity New Zealand, Landcare Research, Federated Farmers, NZ Landcare Trust, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, NZ Biosecurity Institute, and the NZ Plant Protection Society are some of the groups involved.
For more information about Weedbusters, visit www.weedbusters.org.nz.