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Arts Council wins environmental award

November 21st, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Arts Council has won the $1000 Community Award at the Nelson/Tasman enviromental awards for the Welcome to the Godwit celebration it organised in September.

The Arts Council have for the last two years organised and presented this community event. (Read our report here.) This is to celebrate the return each year of Godwits from Alaska to Motueka, as well as promoting the rich bird life of the Motueka Sandspit and coastline.

Judges noted that art has been used to raise awareness and grow knowledge of the conservation values of the area. They said the project "has that community, 'feel good', factor about it and would appear to have involved the whole of Motueka from young to old".

"The committee are bound by a love of art," judges said. "The members have used their other skills and passions to bring together the wider community in every sense of the word, through their connections, to create a project with almost universal local appeal.

"Of their members, Eileen Stewart was involved with the Historic Society and passionate about godwits, Shirley Frater has a love of art and photography, Pauline and David Samways with their love of birds brought in their Forest and Bird and Ornithological Society connections.

"Two of the members had been teachers and used this knowledge to involve the schools and early education institutions. This is to mention but a few of those involved."

According to the judging panel, the Arts Council's aims and objectives "seem to have been achieved in spades. The group has brought together disparate groups and helped them to work together by, extending leadership to those who are passionate and using a knowledge-based network."

The Arts Council acknowledged the work of the volunteers and allowed others to pick up ownership of their ideas and run with it, such as Greenwood and Rudolf Steiner Schools which built a Spit display in the classroom.

Judges noted that hundreds of visitors came through the doors to lectures at a time when parallel events were also being held. Their idea was to pass on some key information to the wider community and raise awareness about the amazing return trip of the godwits, from Alaska to New Zealand in 11 days.

At the public meeting, Keith Woodley (author) and David Melville spoke about the flight of the godwit, Maori wardens were the event management team, and members of the Lions organisation were the fire wardens.

The photographic competition had 70 entries which were well displayed and tagged, and in Arts Council chairwoman Shirley Frater's words, "For every photo entered there were probably 30 to 100 stored on a computer." All this involves time, thought and seeing the world in a different way.

Other points highlighted by the judges included the fact that, with a budget of $2400, there could be no use of consultants, so the Council had to be thrifty and rely on time and persuasion. They brought partnerships on board and networked through other organisations to get buy in and involvement. And when things got tough, the members had a system of acknowledging this with a bunch of flowers from the Floral Art Society.

The judges said Shirley Frater was "just amazing. Her ability as a leader was inspiring. One phrase she used was 'capturing the passion of people and making them the leaders of groups'. She spoke of the need to be a mentor, and to encourage the children. There are only 12 people on their committee, but they have brought in over 800 committed individuals.


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