Award honours former park ranger

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An environmental education award has been established by the Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust to honour Bruce Banks who died last year after a long illness.
‘ Applicants must clearly identify how they intend to further native biodiversity in the Waimakariri District. ‘
— Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust general manager
Greg Byrnes
The TeKohaka o Tuhaitara Bruce Banks Environmental Education Award, of up to $500, will be offered annually to any primary or secondary school student or school, who or which aims to further nativebiodiversity in the Waimakariri District.
The trust administers the 575 hectare Tuhaitara Coastal Park in Waimakariri.
Joseph Hullen, chairman of the trust, said Bruce began work at the Tuhaitara Coastal Park as a volunteerbut later became their firsthonorary ranger.
The trust wanted to recognise the important work Bruce did establishing the animal pest control programme at the park.
His work encouraged others to volunteer, Joseph said. Bruce had also recognised the importance of encouraging young people to become involved in caring for the park and often brought his young grandchildren to work with him, nurturing their interest in biodiversity.
‘‘He was atrailblazer,’’ Joseph said.
The trust had a200-year vision for the park, so it was vital that young people became involved in the care of it. The trust’s general manager Greg Byrnes said Bruce established and ran the Tutaepatu Lagoon western trap line for a number of years which was a significant factor in the return of a number of native bird species at the lagoon including Kotuku (White Heron).
Bruce’s work was also one of the reasons why the Department of Conservation was considering establishing aKaki/Black Stilt release programme for the Ashley-Rakahuri River and the Tuhaitara Coastal Park and a possible release of Patiki/Brown Teal at the Tutaepatu Lagoon.
The award also recognised the contribution Bruce made towards the establishment of the Trust’s Biota Node project which aims to restore the natural habitat at the Tuhaitara Coastal Park in small sections by encouraging schools to become involved with the planting and continuing care of each node.
‘‘Bruce was, during his long career in education, the principal of Woodend School, the first school to take part in the Trust’s Biota Node project,’’ Greg said.
The award will be open to anyone from the Waimakariri District participating in environmental education, either as a learner or provider.
‘‘Applicants must clearly identify how they intend to further native biodiversity in the Waimakariri District,’’ Greg said.
Greg believes the award will contribute to the trust’s ‘‘intergenerational approach’’ towards the rehabilitation of the Tuhaitara Coastal Park.
Kaiapoi artist Mark Larsen has createdand sponsored aunique trophy for the award. The trophy was made using graywacke stone sourced from the Waimakariri River.
‘‘The sandblasting is the logo of Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust. The base is made from plate steel shaped into a Koru to signify the Maori culture of the area – avery important area at that – and the Kowhai flowers symbolise the flora and fauna that these folks have tirelessly planted and nurtured to where it is today,’’ Mark said.