A Horsham Downs dairy farming family was amongst a group of Waikato people recognised for their outstanding contribution to conservation at Environment Waikato’s Policy and Strategy Committee this week.
Horsham Downs farmers Andrew and Jenny Hayes and their son Rodney accepted a certificate and a native tree from Environment Waikato chairman Jenni Vernon.
Mr and Mrs Hayes and their sons Alastair, Derek, Rodney and Fred have been working to improve the health of two peat lakes near their farm, just north of Hamilton, since 1999.
They have significantly reduced nitrogen use and created wetland buffers around Lake Kaituna and Lake Komakorau to improve water quality. They have also taken a leadership role in restoring the lakes, helping to form the Lake Kaituna care group, removing rubbish, controlling pests and undertaking habitat restoration work.
Earlier this year the family received a Green Ribbon award from the Ministry for the Environment for its outstanding contribution to sustaining, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s environment.
The chairman said Mr and Mrs Hayes had made “a tremendous commitment to improving the two lakes”.
“I can’t speak highly enough of them, particularly when you see it’s been a whole family effort,” she said.
“This project has been a passion for them. They are great role models who lead by example and future generations will benefit from their work.”
In accepting the award, Mr Hayes said conservation was about different agencies like the Department of Conservation, Environment Waikato, Landcare Research and the University of Waikato working together with the community.
“It’s very good to see the commitment and positive attitude that we’re getting from Environment Waikato,” he said.
“When you’ve got that positive attitude coming through it just lifts you up. We’ve found Environment Waikato staff very good to work with and we’ve got a lot of reward and enjoyment from what we’re doing.”
Mr Hayes “took his hat off” to his sons, who had carried on with work to clear thousands of willow trees from the peat lakes after he suffered a leg injury.
“The next generation has to keep moving on,” he said.
Two other Waikato couples also received awards at this morning’s committee meeting.
Cambridge couple David and Juliette Wallace, who also won Green Ribbon awards this year were recognised for their work with the Maungatautari Ecological Island Project, while Otorohanga couple Arthur and Pat Cowan received a certificate for the decades they have dedicated to conservation.
“We are very proud of what this region achieves,” the chairman said.
“There were 69 nominations for the Green Ribbon awards, and of the eight winners, two came from the Waikato. Our region does exceptionally well.”