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Triple win for Taranaki projects


Team members from three of Taranaki’s community-led research projects – Project Litter, Kimihia Kermit and Tracking Fur Babies – have received local environmental awards.

Groups and individuals involved in projects supported by the Taranaki Participatory Science Platform (PSP) have been presented with three awards at the 2018 Taranaki Regional Council Environment Awards.

Teacher Pat Swanson and the 27 budding marine biologists in the Highland Intermediate Marine Studies Group (external link) took home the ‘Environmental Action in Education’ award for Project Litter, in which they are cleaning up lots of rubbish from Tupuae Marine Reserve while studying the impact of this litter on the sea life there.

“The kids were rapt to get the award,” Pat says. “For them, it was a recognition of all the efforts they had made with a meaningful science project that they had created.

“The highlight for me was seeing two of my students go up to accept the award, and speak with passion about our project, and what it means to them. It was also a great bonus that we received prize money, which will go towards our end of year trip to Goat Island Marine Reserve.”

Marlene Benson (external link) at Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga was honoured with the ‘Environmental Action in the Community’ award for being a long-term volunteer for numerous successful biodiversity and conservation projects.

This year, Marlene is leading the PSP-supported Kimihia Kermit project team, which is investigating the whereabouts, type and number of frogs found in North Taranaki.

Marlene Benson (centre) with her award

MAIN Trust (external link) received the ‘Environmental Leadership in Business’ award for creating invaluable digital tools for local wildlife projects to effectively and meaningfully collect and present their data. Its latest projects are Tracking Fur Babies and then CatMap, in which cat owners of all ages strap GPS units to their pets track how far the cats travel and whether they frequent sensitive natural areas with endangered wildlife.

Fur Babies has been great fun and we've all learnt a great deal about cats and their secret day and night habits – like how rural cats generally wander much farther than urban cats yet urban cats still do a lot of walking within the smaller range,” says Elise Smith at MAIN Trust.

“It feels wonderful for us to get the ‘Environmental Leadership in Business’ award. It’s been great developing what are commercial, highly specialised and expensive IT systems for Curious Minds projects, which we do because we want to see science encouraged – and to also have fun! It was wonderful to see the other Curious Minds-inspired school projects at the awards too."

Elise (second from left) with her MAIN Trust colleagues with their award

Read more about the 2018 Environment Awards and the 14 winners (external link)

Photo credits: Mark Dwyer Photo & Video

Scientists and locals collaborating around a table

Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform supports collaborative projects that bring together communities and scientists or technologists on research investigating a locally-important question or problem.

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