The Mistletoe Bay Trust has been named the supreme winner of the TrustPower National Community Awards for its eco-village and campground in the Marlborough Sounds.
Trust chairman Simon Heath said the win on Saturday night, presented at an awards dinner at Stadium Southland in Invercargill, had been a "big surprise".
"It was fantastic, a big surprise but fantastic. We were delighted and humbled with the award . . . there's 25 regions and there were some amazing projects [in the running]," he said.
Mr Heath believed the dedication of the trust over the past 10 years had played a major part in being named the winner.
The trust had successfully established an eco-village and campground in Queen Charlotte Sound, aimed at providing education on how to practice conservation, and future-proofing the environment.
"That's the point, kids are our key target group in terms of teaching them about the environment, teaching them about sustainable practice, teaching them about conservation, so they can carry that into the future, because frankly we [previous generations] haven't done a very good job," he said.
The win comes after the trust was named the top community group in the region at the TrustPower Marlborough Community Awards in Blenheim in October. Last year, the eco village and camping ground also took out the supreme award at the Marlborough Environment Awards.
The trust took over the management of the bay from the Department of Conservation in 2004 and set about raising money to build the eight whare and other areas, including a new conference room and hi-tech water and waste systems.
Over the past 18 months, the village had developed a classroom and community room, a science laboratory, a new camp kitchen and an ablutions block. It also built a fleet of six new optimist yachts to support its sailing programme.
For the latest award, Mr Heath, along with trust member Jon Cunliffe, had to give an eight-minute presentation on their project, alongside the other 24 entrants.
Peer voting made up 50 per cent of the final score and an independent judging panel - Kerri Tilby-Price from Exult, Louise Lee from Volunteering New Zealand and Malcolm Cameron, QSM and 2012 Senior New Zealander of the Year - made up the other 50 per cent.
Entrants were judged on volunteer input, use of resources, initiative and creativity, effectiveness and impact on the district.
Trustpower community relations co-ordinator Suzi Luff said the Mistletoe Bay Trust was a great example of a community group taking ownership of an opportunity and developing further.
"Mistletoe Bay Trust drove a vision to highlight Mistletoe Bay's best features by setting up an eco-village and campground for the benefit of future generations," she said.
For their win, the trust received $2500 prize money, a $500 voucher from Exult, a leading specialist training provider for the not-for-profit sector, a trophy, and a framed certificate.
"Wonderful programme and great to see how financially independent you are. Huge community impact and forward thinking in terms of education."
"I'd love to see this go nationwide."
"What can I say? Wow! What variety, what opportunity, I'm sold. This can only go from strength to strength."
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