It's the last day to get your submission in on the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan. It's really important to tell us what you do and don't like about the proposed plan, and any solutions you have to the issues that we're trying to address. There's an online form, or you can simply send us a letter. You can get all the information you need on our website http://www.es.govt.nz/…/Proposed-Southland-Water-and-Land-P…

Environment Southland's photo.

What a fantastic night it’s been. Congratulations to all our nominees and especially our winners. To view videos of all nominees this year, go to www.es.govt.nz/envawards16

Environment Southland's photo.

Our final award for the night is the Councillors’ special award. This award is decided at the sole discretion of the two councillors on the judging panel and the cash prize is provided by the Environment Southland Councillors. This year it goes to the Pourakino Catchment Group, a proactive and environmentally aware group of farmers who wanted to take some action in response to reports of declining water quality and proposed regulations. In just two years the group has made some significant progress. Their actions have helped improve knowledge of good practice around nutrient and land management and are going a long way to developing community interest and community solutions to issues.

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The winner of the farming award this year is Elya Holdings. This beautiful farm is set along the Te Anau–Mossburn Highway. Craig and Rachael Horrell have fenced and planted over 14 kilometres of the Wilderness Stream, placed QE2 covenants on 40 hectares of native bush, created shade by planting over 20,000 trees and have constructed seven wetlands to trap sediment and phosphorus.

Commended in the farming category are father and daughter farmers George McMeeken and Jaimee Edwa...rds. Their 300 hectare property was overrun with unpruned trees and gullies were full of gorse in 1985. With the trees and gorse now in check, George and Jaimee have an eye on the future. Judges felt the farm was a great example of good management practices and commented that George and Jaimee are outstanding stewards of the land.

This year we welcomed a new sponsor for the farming award. Thanks to Wynn Williams for coming onboard and providing the cash prize for this award.

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The second Achiever award goes to the Pomona Island Charitable Trust, who’s been eradicating pests from Pomona and Rona Islands on Lake Manapouri. Instead of being disheartened when rats and mice reinvaded in 2012 the Trust took action, deploying extensive networks of bait stations and trap sites on both islands. The result is that mohua and robins are thriving on Pomona Island, and kiwi are being released back onto Rona Island.

Commended in the Achiever category is the Otautau Community, who pulled together to restore the historic Pourakino Picnic Area. Carried out over 12 months, this beautiful restoration could only have happened with help from a lot of willing volunteers and donated equipment.

Real Journeys sponsors the Achiever award, and were kind enough to provide both winners with a prize this year.

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Judges had to make some tough decisions this year. For the Achiever award the judges felt that there were two nominees very worthy of recognition in this category, but for very different reasons. So they’ve done something they haven’t done before – they’ve named two winners.

The first award goes to the Winton Rotary Club for their Winton Rotary Trail project. Over the last four years they Club has constructed the 9km track around Winton and has completed extensive planting of native trees and shrubs. Members of the club say this project has been one of their most rewarding and has been well received by the community.

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