Waiohau local and eel expert Bill Kerrison was acknowledged for his efforts to care for tuna (longfin eels) at the Morgan Foundation NZ River Awards last night (27 November 2014).
He was awarded the inaugural Best River Story Award from amongst fifteen other nominations from around the country. The award recognises inspiring examples of local people doing something remarkable for New Zealand’s rivers and streams.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder said that Mr Kerrison has played a pivotal role in helping to care for the Rangitāiki and other Bay of Plenty rivers, and the taonga (treasures) they support.
“Bill is an inspiration to the whole community. He and his whānau have been working hard to care for the Rangitāiki for most of his life; their passion and commitment is contagious. Bill’s over 70 years old now and has led the world in designing innovative solutions for improving native fish passage and transfer systems.”
“The Best River Story Award is well deserved and we congratulate him on his achievement,” said Chairman Leeder.
Mr Kerrison received the award for his eel transfer work. He has developed site-specific processes and helped to mitigate the effects of built structures in the Rangitāiki River on threatened native fish (including the New Zealand longfin eel).
He was also acknowledged for regularly sharing his skills and knowledge with others. He has developed a purpose-built facility on his own property to accommodate scientists and students that visit from all over the country to study his work and techniques.
Mr Kerrison is a founding member of the Kokopu Trust. In 2012 he was made a Distinguished Science Fellow by Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiārangi for his outstanding contribution to the conservation of freshwater fisheries and community education.
Chairman Leeder said that Mr Kerrison also regularly provides expertise and advice to the Rangitāiki River Forum, playing a valuable part in informing the co-governance entity.