News article

CRT Trustee finalist in New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year

Congratulations to Graeme Atkins, a trustee of Tāhuna Ora for three years, for being named as a finalist in the New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year category in the 2024 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.
Graeme is Ngāti Porou and Rongomaiwahine, has spent his life in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and is a dedicated protector of native plant life in the area.

He founded the Tairāwhiti Ngutukākā project, planting thousands of kākā beak around the region’s marae and roadsides with rangatahi, kaumatua and whānau to prevent the extinction of this stunning, but nationally critically endangered, plant.

He also was a founder of the Raukūmara Pae Maunga restoration kaupapa, seeking to save the Raukumāras from collapse, due to the ravages of possum, goats, pigs and deer.

In early 2023, after the horrific damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, Graeme recorded footage of kaimoana that had died of suffocation, in the silt that had poured down the Waiapu river. This footage became part of the main bulletin in national news and moved many to action.

He is known in the conservation community as the “Māori David Attenborough of plants” and is a much valued and generous member of the CRT board, always ready to share his precious knowledge.

The date of the awards ceremony unfortunately clashes with our Kāwhia conference, which means Graeme will be unable to be with us for the conference, but we wish him all the best for the ceremony and have our fingers crossed!