Forest & Bird honours writer, conservationist

27 Jun 2011

Nelson conservationist, writer, and guide Dr Andrew Dennis has been awarded Forest & Bird’s prestigious Old Blue award for sharing his knowledge and passion for nature and wild places on land and at sea.

Books such as “The Paparoas Guide” and “Images of a Limestone Landscape” with conservationist and nature photographer Craig Potton were crucial in promoting public appreciation and helping make the case for national park status for the Paparoa Range.

Andy Dennis’ expertise and advocacy was critical to the successful establishment of Kahurangi National Park in 1996 and the Horoirangi Marine Reserve near Nelson in 2006. His vast natural history and recreational knowledge has been crucial to numerous submissions, presentations and expert evidence on issues as diverse as national park management, high country tenure review and marine farming in South Westland.

“More than anyone else, he kept going for more than a decade on trying to get the Horoirangi Marine Reserve. I don’t think we would have got there without the constant nagging from Andy over a decade,” said Craig Potton, Andy’s long-time friend and a Forest & Bird executive member.

He described Andy as “one of the great submission writers”, who as a former law lecturer was always on top of the legal ramifications of any proposal.

“But rather than write some dry prose like most people, he would throw in a bit of Shakespeare, so they were almost works of literature themselves. And he can pour them out, he has made a huge number of submissions over the years.”

His personable style has won the respect and high regard of opponents as well as allies in environmental issues and his broad grasp of ecology, geography and history informs all he does. He also has close connections to Iceland where he once lived and he travels there regularly to work as a guide.

A Forest & Bird member for more than 20 years, Andy has provided expertise for a huge number of submissions for conservation management plans and national park management plans and he has served on the Nelson-Marlborough Conservation Board. He also wrote the “Southwest New Zealand: World Heritage Highway” guide.

Andy Dennis was one of five people to be awarded the Old Blue at Forest & Bird’s conference in Wellington on Saturday. 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