Community and Education news

23 March 2019

2019 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards winners announced

A highly diversified sheep farm with a strong understanding of matching land use to land capability has won the Supreme Award at the 2019 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards.

The Pyramid in the Avon Valley, farmed by Chris and Julia Dawkins and their family, covers 602 ha of rolling and steep hill country. As well as livestock and forestry, there is a strong emphasis on protecting and restoring significant areas of native bush. 

Chris Dawkins and family accept the Supreme Award with, from left, sponsor Gerald Hope (Marlborough Research Centre), Awards MC Bev Doole and sponsor Dion Mundy (Plant and Food Research).

The Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards are held every two years to showcase businesses and community projects that protect and enhance the environment.  Public field days will be held with the winners over the next few months to share their knowledge and experience.

The Awards are supported by the Marlborough District Council, Cawthron Institute, Department of Conservation and local sponsors. 

Cawthron Institute has supported the awards since 2013 with Chair of the Cawthron Institute Trust Board, Bob Dickinson saying that celebrating and showcasing Marlborough business and community projects that protect and enhance the environment is very much aligned with the Institute’s priorities. “Cawthron Institute wants to make a positive difference to our environment. Achieving a balance between protecting – and interacting with – the environment is important for New Zealand.”

The Supreme winner was selected from the seven category winners announced at the Awards Dinner at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Friday (March 22):

1. Landscape and Habitat Enhancement: Picton Dawn Chorus
A trail-blazing community project to get rid of predators in the 2000ha around Picton and Waikawa and bring back the native birds. This is being achieved by trapping, education and encouraging residents to get involved.

2. Forestry: Merrill and Ring
Forest management company Merrill and Ring is working to protect ecologically significant sites at the Branch River pine plantation by planting a buffer zone of totara on previously harvested areas. The judges were impressed by the innovative thinking to protect biodiversity and manage slash and sediment, which are industry-wide issues.

3. Wine Industry: Pernod Ricard Winemakers
The wine company has a culture of continuous improvement and is working towards an ambitious target of zero waste to landfill by 2020. Staff are auditing waste, converting to steel vineyard posts, influencing suppliers to provide recyclable or reusable packaging, and developing alternative uses for grape marc. Work also continues on vineyard biodiversity projects and carbon accounting.

4. Community Innovation: Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary
The 40-hectare predator-free sanctuary has forged close links with other community groups and puts a strong emphasis on education and guided visits to share the conservation message. Their work bodes well for the ongoing sustainability of the restoration project.

5. Marine: Marlborough Girls College Marine Team
As part of their Environmental Sustainability Course, the Marine Team looked at previous management of the Sounds and found an urgent need for better protection. They drafted special legislation to create a collaborative group of stakeholders and give them the powers to protect and manage the marine area. The proposal won support from the Marlborough District Council and was presented to the Prime Minister.

6. Farming: The Pyramid
Sheep are the backbone of the farming operation, along with a focus on breeding Jersey bulls and mixed forestry. Protection of significant natural areas, beekeeping and grape-growing round out the enterprise. The judges said hard work, research, and reinvestment is paying off for the farm, and for the environment, and the Pyramid is a great example for the industry. 

7. Business Innovation: Vines Village Café
Jeff and Tim Fulton have a strong ethic of looking after the environment as part of their business. They have transformed the Vines Village Café with native plantings, vege gardens and a lake. Behind the scenes the focus is on waste reduction, recycling, supporting local producers and making connections with other companies to promote sustainable tourism.

More information on the winners: