2007 Green Ribbon Award winners

The winners of the 2009 Green Ribbon Awards are listed below.

Rural sustainability

Awarded for outstanding efforts to sustainably manage land or maintain healthy waterways and lakes, especially by those working in the agriculture, horticulture, and forestry sectors, and by community care groups. 


Andrew and Jenny Hayes, and sons Alastair, Rodney, Derek and Fred.

For their care, effort and leadership shown to improve the health of the peat lakes in the Horsham Downs area.

Photo of Andrew and Kenny Hayes with Minister Benson-Pope.

The Hayes family, whose dairy farm near Hamilton surrounds Lake Kaituna and part of Lake Komakorau, farm with the environment in mind. When the family realised the impacts their farming practices had on water quality in the two peat lakes bordering their property, they decided to change how things were done.

They have significantly reduced their nitrogen application from an average of 165 tonnes of nitrogen per hectare per year, to less than 30 tonnes per hectare per year. The Hayes created a buffer of wetland vegetation around the two lakes and retired land close to the lake margins.

The Hayes family has also been instrumental in the restoration of the peat lakes. Restoration work began in 1999 when the family noticed that Lake Kaituna, owned by Department of Conservation (DOC), was disappearing under a canopy of invasive willow trees. The Hayes spent considerable time and effort removing the willow trees. In 2000, with the support of Environment Waikato, DOC, a local neighbour and several duck shooters, the Hayes family formed the Lake Kaituna Care Group.

Since then, the group has removed approximately 30 truckloads of household rubbish dumped around the lake edge, undertaken plant and animal pest control to assist native plant regeneration, and installed sediment traps to reduce sediment input from local drains. Rare native mudfish have been released into the lake and DOC is considering it as a site for brown teal release.

Urban sustainability

Awarded for outstanding contributions to urban sustainability, particularly practical action to improve the environment in our towns and cities.

Winner – first equal
Karori Sanctuary  

For their commitment to sustainable urban conservation at the Karori Sanctuary.

Photo of representatives of Karori Sanctuary with Minister Benson-Pope.

Eleven years ago, the Karori Reservoir valley was a 250 hectare area containing a mixture of re-growth native forest and plantation pine trees. The area was populated by introduced pests and offered little protection or shelter to the remaining original wildlife.

Today, thanks to the outstanding efforts of its staff and volunteers, the Sanctuary is flourishing. The Sanctuary’s valley is now protected by an 8.6 kilometre predator-proof fence. Pests have been eradicated and more than 30,000 native trees have been planted. Fifteen species of native wildlife including saddleback, hihi, little spotted kiwi, giant weta, Maud Island frogs and tuatara have been re-introduced. The Sanctuary has also established successful breeding populations of many endangered birds, including kaka, saddleback, hihi, little spotted kiwi, whitehead and bellbirds.

Located only minutes from the centre of Wellington city, in the past year this urban conservation delight was visited by more than 60,000 visitors, including 4000 school children.  The Sanctuary is an extremely valuable educational tool about New Zealand’s natural history.

Wellington residents can also verify the contribution the Sanctuary has made towards increasing native bird life in their back gardens!

The Karori Sanctuary is a testament to what can be achieved with determination and enthusiasm. It is an inspiration and pioneer to some community groups around New Zealand who are now planning similar projects.

Winner – first equal
Invercargill City Council: New River Estuary Landfill Project

For the restoration of the former New River Estuary landfill into a serene recreation area.

Photo of representatives of Invercargill City Council and Minister Benson-Pope.

Originally destined to become a motorway, the closed New River Estuary Landfill was instead turned into a picturesque natural park, right on Invercargill’s doorstep. The Invercargill City Council, with community help, has set about restoring and enhancing the estuary’s natural state.

The construction of a circular walking track, including a board walk and bridge, provides Southlanders with an accessible recreational opportunity. Information panels inform visitors on the importance of protecting and enhancing the local environment. Extensive planting has taken place over the past two years.

The Estuary is teeming with wildlife. Flounder, shoals of smelt, and sea run trout have been spotted. Other fish breed in it waters and 54 species of birdlife have been identified around the lagoon.

Bird watching hides on the lagoon, walking shelters and additional information panels are being planned.

Caring for our water

Awarded for efficient water use, actions to improve water quality, and projects that protect and conserve water. Activities could include reusing water, increased water conservation, reducing discharges to fresh and seawater or planting along water bodies.

Uretara Estuary Managers

For the restoration of the Uretara Estuary.

Photo of the Uretara Estuary Managers and Minister Benson-Pope.

Three years ago a group of Katikati residents decided to recapture the natural environment of their local estuary. With support from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty, they began extensive pest control work along the southern shore. The Uretara Estuary Managers of Katikati group, formed in 2005, has been busy ever since. 

The group has undertaken erosion control by planting along the stream banks and the estuary shoreline, begun a plant propagation scheme, continued to seasonally bait for pests, educated surrounding landowners about weed control, and are trialling methods of clearing the invasive mangroves.

Restoring the estuary is also being used an education tool. Students from Katikati College are involved with monitoring the water quality of the catchments, and pest monitoring and control in an area of native bush on the north side of the estuary. Research topics are provided to Bay of Plenty Polytechnic students who in turn provide valuable information about the estuary and the group’s projects.

The Uretara Estuary Managers work required an outstanding ability to join residents, landowners, local authorities and students. Its success has encouraged other groups to become active in caring for their estuaries in the northern Tauranga harbour.

Sustainable business and households

Awarded for outstanding efforts in reducing business and household impacts on the environment, such as reducing emissions, waste and energy use, implementing environmental management systems, environmental reporting, and encouraging other businesses to adopt good practices.


For their outstanding contribution to encouraging New Zealand households to adopt sustainable environmental practises.

Photo of the producers of Was$ted and Minister Benson-Pope.

The television series WA$TED! was made up of 10 episodes which screened at the primetime slot of 8pm on TV3. Produced by Fumes TV and funded by New Zealand on Air, WA$TED! was the first show of its type for New Zealand. The focus of the show was clear: to get New Zealand families to reduce their overall resource use and lower their impact on the planet. Each week the WA$TED! team visited a different household and looked at four key areas to transform – rubbish, power, water and fuel.

Approximately 2.6 million New Zealanders viewed WA$TED, many who previously may not have thought about environmental sustainability. The official website received more than 70,000 hits a week and more than 1000 people worked out their household’s footprint. Education packs for teaches, with downloadable free activities, were developed in conjunction with Enviroschools. The series DVD and book of eco tips will continue the use of the information collated for the series in homes and educational environments.

Fumes TV also walked the talk while producing the informative environmental series. The crew car pooled in a hybrid vehicle and used travel mugs instead of take-away coffee cups. DVD and CD disks were recycled and unavoidable carbon emissions were offset. Waste from the mountains of rubbish featured in the show was either composted or recycled. Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) and Landcare Research worked closely with the producers to ensure the accuracy of the information provided.

Young people making a difference

Awarded to young people who show personal commitment to improving our environment. This could, for example, be through practical action at school or in the community, or through efforts they have made to increase the awareness of others, such as setting up an environment group.

Varney Sisters

For their outstanding commitment to improving the environment.

Photo of the Varney sisters and Minister Benson-Pope.

Ashley (12), Courtney (9), and Brooke (6) Varney all demonstrate an exceptional commitment to taking action for the environment. The sisters are regular volunteers at the Motutapu Restoration Trust. Work on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf includes tree planting, weed control and supporting the rest of the crew on volunteer days. During the summer, the sisters are involved in nursery work for winter planting.

Each of the girls belongs to the Enviro Group at The Gardens School. They have worked with Wai Care to learn about healthy waterways, undertaken tree planting at Totara Park on Arbor Day, and participated in planting to protect the water quality of the Puhinui Stream. Ashley has chaired the Enviro Group for the last two years. 

Ever keen to learn more about their environment, the sisters are members of the Kiwi Conservation Club. They attended a trip to Duders Beach to learn about wetlands. Ashley and Courtney joined in the Auckland Regional Councils ‘Big Clean Up’ and have attended a composting course at the Botanical Gardens in Manurewa.

Ashley, Courtney and Brooke are champions for the environment at home, school and in the community. 

Community action for the environment

Awarded to an individual or group who have shown commitment in empowering the community to improve the environment.

Winner – first equal
Fiona Gibson

For her passion and commitment to environmental education.

Photo of Fiona Gibson and Minister Benson-Pope.

Starting with the young in Dunedin Hospital’s Early Childhood Centre, Fiona Gibson’s passion for environmental education engaged 25 teachers and nearly 100 families, all in the space of one year.

Fiona’s commitment to environmental action is evident throughout the centre. She set up a children’s garden, with a compost heap and re-used waste paper for paper making. She introduced children to the concept of threatened and endangered animals. The children were also introduced to the idea of energy conservation. They learnt to turn off lights and bathroom taps to save power and water.

Taking action for the environment was a lesson for staff at the centre too. Fiona introduced compost and recycling bins in the staffroom and kitchen, and influenced staff to stop using plastic cutlery and plates. 

Fiona took the time to update parents on the importance of the environment. A parents’ evening was held to inform families about what the children had learnt about the environment and why. Resources about recycling and sustainability were distributed to families.

Fiona’s drive left a lasting legacy, not only in the Early Childhood Centre, but throughout the community. 

Winner – first equal
David and Juliette Wallace

For their efforts to protect, restore and enhance Maungatautari.

Photo of the Wallaces and the Minister.

Remarkable results have been achieved on Maungatautari, near Cambridge, thanks to David and Juliette Wallace’s energy, enthusiasm, determination and vision.

It began with the construction of a16 hectare innovative predator proof fence at their property – creating the first completely pest-free environment on mainland New Zealand. David and Juliette contributed significantly to the costs of the early research and design of the fence, and freely shared these results. Pest control fences are now being used internationally for conservation projects.

In 2002, David and Juliette extended their vision to the full protection for Maungatautari. They established the Maungatautari Ecological Trust, which David continues to chair. After raising $14.5 million in five years, the Trust invested in the construction of 47 km of pest proof fencing around the Maungatautari bushline. About 3,400 hectare of high quality indigenous forest is now enclosed. Work is underway to remove all introduced mammals from the mountain and, 15 kiwi and two takahe have been reintroduced to the forest and kokopu native fish returned to the mountain’s streams.

David and Juliette have been instrumental in bringing on board and enthusing the more than 200 volunteers who have donated over 6000 hours of work.  They have also spent many hours educating visitors, young and old, about conservation.  

For more information on the Green Ribbon Awards please email green.ribbon@mfe.govt.nz.