The 2024 Cawthron Freshwater Champions awards held at Te Papa in Wellington last night (23 May) celebrated individuals and groups dedicated to the restoration and protection of New Zealand’s freshwater ecosystems. The awards, organised by Cawthron Institute with support from NZ Landcare Trust and the National Science Challenge, Our Land and Water, recognised five champions selected from more than 50 nominations.

The 2024 Cawthron Freshwater Champions are:

  • Burke Family, Pukekauri Farms at Katikati, Bay of Plenty
  • Professor Huhana Smith, Kuku, Horowhenua
  • Mel McColgan, Te Tauihu (Top of the South)
  • Moutere Catchment Group, Tasman Bay
  • Project Parore, Northern Tauranga

Find out more about the Champions here. 

NZLT Coordinator Annette Litherland has been working with the Moutere Catchment Group from Tasman Bay for over five years. They received recognition for their significant early impact. In just five years, this community-driven initiative supported by Annette has grown to more than 200 members. Their collective efforts have led to the planting of 500,000 native trees, the construction of two major wetlands, and the establishment of 50 kilometres of riparian fencing. These actions have substantially improved local water quality and created a replicable model for other rural communities aiming to enhance their waterways.

The Moutere Catchment Group’s rapid progress and dedication to environmental stewardship highlight their role as a vital template for sustainable land and water management. Its commitment not only benefits the local ecosystem but also inspires other communities to engage in similar initiatives. NZ Landcare Trust recently completed an action story with the hope that this model is replicated NZ wide. Read our Action Stories.