Sunday, November 28, 2010

Penguins prosper thanks to peninsula farmers

Date:  25 November 2010

Shireen and Francis Help’s natural affection for kororā/white flippered penguins have earned them the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board Award for 2010.
Shireen and Francis Helps recieve board award.
DG Al Morrison, Board Chair Steve Lowndes present the trophy to Francis and Shireen Helps
The Helps of Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula recieved their award at a private ceremony held Tuesday 23 November, after the Canterbury earthquake forced the postponement of the award ceremony.
The prize included Te Waka o Aoraki trophy and a prize pack.
 “Their project which spans the last twenty years is a perfect example of how farming and conservation can go hand in hand, complimenting each other,” explained Board Chair, Steve Lowndes.
“It’s often joked that Francis and Shireen don’t farm sheep, they farm penguins, but there is some real truth in this.
“They have kept their cattle out of important penguin areas and carry out trapping at the busiest times of the farming year.
Their work has meant that the largest white-flippered penguin colony on the mainland is safeguarded from extinction,” said Mr Lowndes.
The board was also impressed with how generous the husband and wife team were with sharing their knowledge and expertise with other local farmers, helping them with pest control and support.
“They’ve also hosted many students and volunteers over the years, and set up a sustainable tourist venture that raises awareness of these special values with visitors from all over New Zealand and internationally,” said Mr Lowndes.
This year Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board received five nominations for their annual Conservation Board Award, for conservation projects across Canterbury Conservancy.
The awards committee drew up a shortlist based primarily on the quality of the initial application, the backup material provided, the length of time that the project had been running, and the conservation gains that had been achieved.
The winner of this annual award is usually announced during Conservation Week celebrations in September, which this year was themed “Love New Zealand - show your natural affection.”


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