Meet a conservation hero: Willow van Heugten

Publish Date : 27 Dec 2017
Conservation Hero December Willow.jpg
Willow van Heughten (left) receiving the NZ River Award on behalf of Te Wairoa Catchment.

Our Auckland chats with Willow van Heugten, an everyday hero who doesn’t see conservation work just as a hobby but a life-long mission.

Caring for the future generations

Willow’s commitment to protecting our environment includes years of planting native trees, clearing weeds, fighting kauri dieback and supporting pest control initiatives. 

As a member and leader of several conservation groups, including the Friends of Hunua Ranges and the Hunua Kokako recovery project, he’s had an irreplaceable role in unifying fellow nature lovers and raising funds for local projects.

Willow helped establish the Friends of Te Wairoa Catchment – a group of conservation enthusiasts who have come together to improve the wellbeing of the Wairoa river, supported by Franklin Local Board.   

When asked why he makes caring for rivers such a priority, Van Heugten says that our future generations are always on his mind.

“Water and rivers are a source of life and we can’t pollute them anymore – we need to keep them clean for our children and our grandchildren. I’m positive that if we all come together, results will follow”.

Thanks to the group’s efforts, results have followed and the Wairoa river triumphed at the 2017 NZ River Awards as the Most Improved River in the Auckland region.

If you're interested in improving the health of Te Wairoa and want to support our conservation hero, head over to the Friends of the Wairoa Catchment on Facebook. Or check out conservation groups to join in your area at 

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