Thursday, March 31, 2011

Successful open day raising awareness for native whio

Raising awareness for New Zealand’s bluest duck is not the hardest thing to do. Throw together a whole lot of people and organisations who are passionate about whio and open the doors to the public. The result? Anyone who’s interested can learn all there is to know about saving the whio.


Whio Open day was held at the Tongariro National Trout Centre in Turangi on March 19th, where over 500 people attended. Major sponsors of the day, Genesis Energy, were there in full force with Department of Conservation staff, Forest & Bird supporters and Central North Island Blue Duck Trustees working in the community to raise awareness and funds that would help whio recovery in the region. An auction was held using donated prizes raising over $2000. Dan Steele from Blue Duck Lodges in Whakahoro was the auctioneer using his talents to get top dollar for the donated goods which included a beautiful whio painting by artist Ellie Watson and accommodation packages put together by Forest & Bird and Blue Duck Lodges.

A bouncy castle and face painting kept the kids amused and displays and talks took place over the course of the day, informing everyone on the whio projects taking place in the region. A highlight was DOC’s Andy Glaser with his whio dog ‘Neo’ and Alison Beath with her radio tracking display and whio obstacle course.


March has been “Whio Awareness Month” for two years now and the major sponsors and supporters are hoping many more people will get involved next year. Richard Gordon, Genesis Energy’s Public Affairs Manager, attended the Whio Open Day and noted how successful it was. “It is fantastic to work alongside the Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird, the Central North Island Blue Duck Trust and other community groups to raise the awareness of whio. We are impressed at the work being done in the central North Island to help this important and endangered New Zealand species,” he said. Kia Wharite was also a focus for DOC & Horizons staff who enjoyed sharing information with the public and spending a day with their colleagues’ who came from as far and wide as Whanganui to Whakatane, to spend a day supporting the whio.

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