They’re young, enthusiastic, and making environmental conservation the new cool activity for rangatahi.
Para Patrol, a group of mana whenua youngsters, is restoring land and waterways of cultural significance to their iwi, Te Ahiwaru, in the local areas of Mangere and Otahuhu. They’ve invested time and energy clearing rubbish, pest plants and animals while furthering their education in the conservation space.
On Saturday, they were named the Penny Hulse Supreme Environment Award winner at this year’s Mayoral Conservation Awards; they also won the Schools and Youth category.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff congratulated the award winners and finalists and thanked everyone who has volunteered to protect and enhance Auckland’s environment.
“It’s inspiring to learn about this work being carried out across Auckland,” he said.
“The Mayoral Conservation Awards winners and finalists are making a significant contribution to our region’s environment, protecting our native species, and making our city a greener and more sustainable place.
“Supreme winners Para Patrol stood out for the energy and passion they have shown in their conservation efforts, and for their commitment to restoring the environment in their local community.
“My thanks and congratulations to Para Patrol and other winners, finalists and all who are giving their time to safeguard Auckland’s environment.”
Three category winners from across the region were recognised for their roles in restoring and preserving our natural environment in a difficult year where project work was frequently interrupted by COVID-19.
Te Ara Awataha and Jessie Tonar Scout Reserve regeneration project in Northcote won the Collaboration Award for their restoration work of a new 1.5km greenway.
Totara Heights Bush Guardians in Manukau won the Triumph Against Adversity section for continuing to grow their volunteers protecting bush remnants in Manukau in spite of the challenges of COVID-19.
In addition to winning the overall Penny Hulse Supreme Environment Award, Para Patrol won the Schools and Youth Award.
“These conservation awards are celebrating groups who have put nature and people at the heart of what they do, a sentiment we at Te Papa Atawhai live by, says judge Toni Giacon, Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation.
“It was exciting to see the breadth of work being carried out by community groups and especially rangatahi who are working hard on the ground.
“These young conservationists are putting in the mahi to not only help their community but to also give back to Papatūānuku / land.”