Saving Taonga Species

Aug. 20, 2019, 4:52 p.m.

Long-time weaver and propagator of pīngao, Betsy Young, has been awarded Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award for her unwavering passion to reverse the decline of the pīngao.

A plant species endemic to Aotearoa, pīngao was once widespread but has suffered greatly with the introduction of pest species and animals. It’s now restricted to small scattered clusters in coastal areas but through community projects, pīngao is being planted as part of the restoration of native ecosystems across Aotearoa.

Rotary International Governor, Jerry Norman said while ringing around the community asking for nominations there was a recurring theme.

“This award is awarded for someone who’s done exceptionally well. Betsy Young’s name constantly came up through our nomination process. We looked into it and it was naturally a good fit”, said Mr Norman.

Whāea Betsy is often teaching in classrooms of Te Hiku o te Ika about the importance of pīngao and its relationship with the endangered Toheroa that grows along the pīngao lined coast of Ninety Mile Beach.

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