Environmental values were celebrated in Blenheim on Friday night at the Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, also sponsored by the Council, DOC, Foresters, Federated Farmers, Wine Marlborough, ASB, Cuddon's and Morgan's Road Nursery. 20-odd tables of 10 people showed up to hear about 25 entrants in 6 categories.
Dignitaries included local leaders from Iwi, Council and Parliament in the form of 2003 Supreme Award winner Steffan Browning. No sign of new electorate MP Stuart Smith.
Dame Anne Salmond was superb as the guest speaker. She began by noting that Maori arrived by sea-voyaging canoe around 1300, were extremely innovative with terrific sea-going credentials. A relatively short time later, Captain Cook showed up at Totaranui and mutual respect allowed these two peoples to get on together. The area became a favourite resting place for the English who loved the loud and varied morning birdsong. Shame we don't hear that much these days. So its wonderful to celebrate people who care enough to do something.
A fellow dairy farmer sitting next to Lynne said "That was a really good speech. who is that woman? I've never heard of her."
There was some very cool stuff on display, like volunteer teams killing wilding pines in the sounds, wetland reclamation, a wildlife sanctuary, conservation education schemes, community gardens, a farmers market and voluntary renovation of a remote DoC hut.
We loved the Supreme Award winner: NZ Drylands Forestry Initiative is researching the best coppicable Eucalypt for dryland conditions in New Zealand. The idea is to replace toxic treated pine posts in farming and viticulture, with ground durable posts that can be harvested without killing the tree or disturbing the soil. Brilliant. This focus on the right plant for the job reminded me of Mark Cristensen's wonderful work on apples (Monty's Surprise) and tomatoes (Moonglow) as reported at the raving loonies conference last month.
To be brutally honest some of the other entries looked odd. It doesn't really spin my wheels that some vineyards/wineries might install PV solar or make the adversity of a wetland into a marketing angle, while still spraying the life out of almost everything.
But it's interesting that these fairly big businesses can be arsed getting involved as entrants or sponsors. That indicates that anti-environmentalism is being driven underground, as happened to sexism and racism in the past.