Waipā’s Sanctuary Mountain has won the Wintec-sponsored social and environmental Sustainability Award at the annual Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business awards.
Volunteer co-ordinator Lian Buckett, speaking at the Lions Trash n Treasure market in Cambridge on Sunday, said the 162 volunteers she has on her books made a huge contribution to the win.
With her on the stand was Elaine Parkinson, a volunteer for 17 years, who said Maungatautari was the vision of founder David Wallace who erected a pest-proof fence on his farm in 1999.
“The idea when I first heard about it seemed like a great idea but I thought ‘it would never get off the ground’ and look at it today,” she said.
The maunga was previously overrun by deer, goats, pigs and possums, the eco refuge owes its success to an extraordinary community effort.
By 2004, the 3400-hectare mountain was ringed by a three-metre high, 47km pest-free fence – the longest in the world. Introduced predators such as rats, possums, weasels and ferrets were eradicated by poison, trapping and hunting.
Volunteers range from retired university lecturers to iwi and local schoolchildren.
They work on the maunga, at stands like the Lions one and at the nursery where seeds sourced from the mountain are tended and then on sold for the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust.
Meanwhile the trust will go ahead with its first annual wellbeing celebration on Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
Sessions include yoga, meditation, chi kung, a self-guided wellbeing walk with activities to try, a mindful hike, a guided sensory experience, wonderful music, rongoā rakau tours and the delicious moonlight meditation event.
Entry is $30.