Operators scoop sustainable business awards

Awards: “For 17 years, Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari has been educating passengers about the importance of the Hauraki Gulf and its inhabitants”. Image: Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari

Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari, Wellington’s ZEALANDIA and Christchurch Airport have all won accolades at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari won the Partnering for Good category, ZEALANDIA won the Restoring Nature award, and Christchurch Airport won the Efficiency Champion prize for dramatically reducing its energy use.

The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards have been running for 15 years and are the pre-eminent and longest-standing sustainability awards in New Zealand. The 2017 Awards ceremony was held on Thursday night at a gala dinner in Auckland.

“Working alongside key partners, Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari has collectively achieved significant gains with respect to the preservation of species and environment through research, education and awareness, all whilst simultaneously developing a unique visitor experience and thriving business,” said the awards’ profile of the operator.

“For 17 years, Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari has been educating passengers about the importance of the Hauraki Gulf and its inhabitants. Alongside this public education it has also provided its vessel the Dolphin Explorer free of charge for the purposes of marine-life and environmental science research efforts.

“It has voluntarily and directly contributed to dozens of PhD and Masters-level research studies. In the past 12 months alone 15,000 passengers have enjoyed this unique experience.”

The operator’s general manager, Brad Kirner, said it was a humbling experience to win the award.

“We’re a very small company, who’ve been going for 17 years, and we’re operating in the most amazing environment out there,” said Kirner. “It is one of the most special ecological areas in the world and we’re very proud to work with the Department of Conservation, Auckland University and Massey University to try and find out as much as we can about the resource so we can actually work to protect it.”

ZEALANDIA was praised for its restoration of 225 hectares of ecosystem and threatened species in central Wellington.

“Restoration of this valley has been an incredible success, largely as a result of thousands of hours of volunteer effort. Native species have dramatically increased, and several species that were wiped out from the area have been returned. Eighteen species have been reintroduced, most of which now have thriving, self-sustaining populations.”

Christchurch Airport was recognised for cutting its total energy use – electricity, diesel and gas – by 21% since.2013, when it opened its new $237m terminal.

“Christchurch International Airport has pioneered the use of a large-scale New Zealand-designed system that heats and cools the building using a water reservoir below the terminal. This is a world first.

“The Airport recognised that simply adopting the latest technology would not automatically mean the terminal was operating as sustainably as possible. Instead, the company invested time and effort to continually refine operations and maximise efficiency.”

Real Journeys and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari were finalists at the awards.

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