Forest & Bird awards conservationist

27 Jun 2011

 Jon Wenham of Hamilton has been awarded Forest & Bird’s prestigious Old Blue award for his outstanding contribution to conservation through his long-standing service to Forest & Bird and particularly the Waikato branch and region.

A special presentation was also made to Jon at Forest & Bird’s annual conference in Wellington this weekend to recognise his leadership of the project to rebuild Forest & Bird’s Ruapehu Lodge after original building was destroyed in a 2008 fire.

Jon has been a stalwart of the Waikato Branch since the 1980s and a committee member for more than 15 years. He was deeply involved in the Maui’s dolphin campaign and played a crucial role in gaining support from fishers.

“Jon has been a pillar of strength for the local branch. If there is something to be done he will do it – he’s a quiet person and he just gets on with it,” Waikato branch chair Philip Hart said.

He has worked hard to clean up Raglan Harbour, as well as on the Kaimai-Mamaku project, and has organised promotional and display material for the branch for many years.

He joined the national executive in 2008 and worked tirelessly to oversee the design and construction of our splendid Ruapehu Lodge after the original building was destroyed by fire.

Forest & Bird General Manager Mike Britton made the special presentation to Jon, paying tribute to his single-minded dedication to successfully see the lodge project through.

“When the lodge burned down, Jon took an immediate interest in how to replace it and talked to regular users before drawing up a concept plan,” Mike Britton said.

“After going through a process looking at a variety of designs, we ended up sticking pretty close to Jon’s original concept which he drew up within a few days.

“He oversaw the details of the design and construction and the end result is a great building which owes a tremendous debt to Jon’s enthusiasm and the sacrifices he made in his own life and work.”

Jon Wenham was one of five people to be awarded the Old Blue at the Forest & Bird conference.

The awards are named for the Chatham Islands black robin called Old Blue which was the last productive female of her species by the late 1970s.

The efforts of Old Blue and a Wildlife Service team led by the late Don Merton has seen the population recover from a low of five to around 200 today.