Coastal Otago Conservation Award
Saturday 18th September, 2010Well done to Lala Frazer, one of our founding Trustees, for winning this year's Coastal Otago Conservation Award!
ODT article follows (from Fri 17th September written by Rebecca Fox):
A founder of prominent conservation organisations such as the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and Save the Otago Peninsula, Lala Frazer is this year's Coastal Otago Conservation Award winner. Rebecca Fox talks to her about three decades of work to conserve Otago's environment.
She may be officially retired, but Lala Frazer says she has just exchanged one full-time job for another. "I'm a full-time conservationist," the 68-year-old said. But it was not always that way. It took the Aramoana smelter proposal and the possibility of an alternative site at Okia Flat to get her asking questions about the environment.
"I was beginning to become aware of the area around me and not taking it for granted so much."
From there, Save the Otago Peninsula (Stop) was started. The smelter issue went away but the next threat was to Harbour Cone from mining. "That was an eye opener. We became instant experts in that type of mining."
Once again, that threat went away, but the fight made Mrs Frazer realise that getting a large group of people together and educating them about a threat to the environment could be very effective.
Then she heard a talk on how the yellow-eyed penguins could be lost to the peninsula because of predation. "It was a wake-up call. So that led to the development of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust." Mrs Frazer has been a founding trustee ever since it was established in 1987 and convenes its management committee. She also serves on the Okia Reserve management committee.
Stop's next campaign was against subdivision on Harbour Cone, which it took to court, but lost, she said. "But it made us aware of what was likely to happen." So Mrs Frazer started to approach city councillors and staff alike, proposing that the council buy Harbour Cone. "Their first reaction was 'Fabulous idea,' their second,`It won't fly,' but I thought if I could persuade enough people ..."
"Stop mounted a really terrific campaign, arranging reports on the importance of the landmark's flora and fauna, and convinced the council it was not just about the visual importance of the land," she said. The council agreed to buy the 328ha block in 2008, to protect its biodiversity.
In between those campaigns, Mrs Frazer has been out in her gumboots, with her gardening gloves on, working to reduce plant and animal pests on the peninsula. Stop and volunteers have fenced off some of the few remaining original bush remnants on the peninsula, and through trial and error are working out how to restore habitat for jewelled gecko. "If we don't do it, we'll lose the biodiversity in the remnants we've got left."
But to make all this work successful, efforts had to be made behind the scenes to get funding or lobby local or central government, she said. "I love the practical stuff, but there is the organisation, and very few people can write submissions or are willing to stand up and deliver one to politicians."
So, despite retiring from the University of Otago three years ago, she was still attending meetings and writing submissions, she said.