With a sinking feeling of déjà vu, Conservation Week event organisers in the Wairarapa cancelled face to face events for a second year in a row due to COVID-19.

Fortunately, this years’ theme ‘Take a moment for nature’ was still relevant in Level 3, so a photo competition to encourage locals to do just that seemed only logical.

Senior Community Ranger, Ronnie Anderson, says the competition has exceeded her wildest expectations.

“We wanted to run it on Facebook, so it was easy to enter and had the potential to go ‘viral’ in the Wairarapa. It reached over 12,000 and we had 184 entries, so I reckon we achieved that.

“We know that getting outside and connecting with nature improves wellbeing. With the current environment it has never been more important to take time for ourselves outdoors and give our minds a break. It’s been great to see so many people doing that.”

Rebecca Jamieson from the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance, who hosted the competition on their Facebook page, says she was impressed with the range and caliber of entries.

“Many of the photos submitted have highlighted how beautiful the Wairarapa is. Watching the entries come in was incredibly uplifting; but it has also brought me a new appreciation for our own backyard.”

Alex Wall from Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre says the Wairarapa is spoilt for choice when it comes to natural attractions.

“Obviously there’s Pūkaha, which is now open, but you’ve also got Castlepoint, the Pinnacles, Cape Palliser, Tararua Forest Park, and Henley Lake to name a few.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allen was called in to judge the competition and was impressed with the number of quality entries.

“Each of the photographs perfectly capture the Conservation Week theme of taking a moment to notice nature. Well done to all the entrants; you have sold me on the Wairarapa and its wonderfully diverse environment. Keep up the great work.”


Winning entries