Biosecurity award winners celebrated for protecting New Zealand

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Winners of 10 awards were celebrated at the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards held in Auckland on Monday, 4 November 2019, with the supreme award going to Te Arawa Lakes Trust for Te Arawa Catfish Killas.   

The awards celebrate people across New Zealand who are contributing to biosecurity – in our communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, government, in the bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards. 

Te Arawa Lakes Trust, of Rotorua, took out the top honour with the trust's initiative dubbed ‘Catfish Killas' winning the New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award and also receiving the New Zealand Biosecurity Department of Conservation Community Pihinga Award.

Catfish Killas is a collaboration led by Te Arawa Lakes Trust and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Judging panel chair Dr John Hellstrom said the judges were unanimous in choosing Te Arawa Catfish Killas as the supreme award winner.

"Te Arawa Catfish Killas was established in November 2018 in response to an incursion of catfish in Lake Rotoiti. They use fyke nets to rid the ancestral lakes of Te Arawa of catfish, a very unwanted pest – and have now adopted a long-term management plan," he said.

"Catfish prey on small native fish, eat fish eggs, compete with kōura (freshwater native crayfish) and stir up sediment. The Catfish Killers manage the catfish population with the help of 48 fyke nets, catching up to 1,000 catfish a week."

Participating volunteers include lakeside residents, holidaymakers, tourists, and students from 16 local schools, Toi Ohomai, and one early childhood centre – putting volunteer participation at more than 450 people.

"The achievements of this trust in collaborating and working with community, iwi, and council to take everyone with them on this fantastic outreach programme makes them the worthy recipient of the supreme award," Dr Hellstrom said. 

More than 180 people attended the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards dinner at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Monday, 4 November.

This year's awards, now in their third year, attracted a record number of 70 high-calibre entries.

Deputy director-general of Biosecurity New Zealand Penny Nelson said the awards celebrate the incredible individuals and teams who are working hard to help ensure Aotearoa is safe from pests and disease.

"The winners include leaders, researchers, scientists, communities, and innovators who have gone above and beyond in their work to protect our environment, our taonga, our economy, and our way of life.

"Their magnificent mahi is fundamental in keeping our biosecurity system strong, and every day they are putting in the hard yards to ensure New Zealand continues to have a world-leading biosecurity system," she said.

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