The Leslie Hutchins
Conservation Foundation

has contributed more than $500,000 to conservation projects in the southern region.
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About Les and the LHCG

The late Leslie (Les) Hutchins, DCNZM,OBE, JP, had a lifetime passion for Fiordland and conservation issues.  He was a key member of what is widely regarded as the start of New Zealand’s conservation movement - the successful "Save Manapouri Campaign" - which stopped the raising of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri for power generation. As the small tourism company he founded (with Olive, Lady Hutchins), began to expand, they started directing some of the profits into conservation work.  

In 1973, Les was named one of the founding Guardians of the Lakes, a position he held for 26 years.  He spent 12 years on the New Zealand Conservation Authority and was a founding patron of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation.

Les was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1998 and made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (the non-titular equivalent of a knighthood) in 2002 for his services to tourism and conservation. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.

The small private tourism company he founded in 1954 is now the Wayfare group of tourism and ski companies (Real Journeys, Go Orange, Cardrona & Treble Cone and the International Antarctic Centre).

The charitable trust Les began in 1994, with a generous initial donation, continues to receive an annual contribution from Real Journeys, as a levy collected from every Doubtful Sound visitor.

More About Me
LeeOlive1

About Les and the LHCF

The late Leslie (Les) Hutchins, DCNZM,OBE, JP, had a lifetime passion for Fiordland and conservation issues.  He was a key member of what is widely regarded as the start of New Zealand’s conservation movement - the successful "Save Manapouri Campaign" - which stopped the raising of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri for power generation. As the small tourism company he founded (with Olive, Lady Hutchins), began to expand, they started directing some of the profits into conservation work.

In 1973, Les was named one of the founding Guardians of the Lakes, a position he held for 26 years.  He spent 12 years on the New Zealand Conservation Authority and was a founding patron of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation.

Les was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1998 and made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (the non-titular equivalent of a knighthood) in 2002 for his services to tourism and conservation. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.

The small private tourism company he founded in 1954 is now the RealNZ group of tourism and ski companies (Real Journeys, Go Orange, Cardrona & Treble Cone and the International Antarctic Centre).

The charitable trust Les began in 1994, with a generous initial donation, continues to receive an annual contribution from Real Journeys, as a levy collected from every Doubtful Sound visitor.

More About Me
LeeOlive-About

"Les was happiest when he was sharing the beauty of Fiordland with his family, friends and visitors. He campaigned against issues that threatened the natural value of these special places and the opportunity for everyday New Zealanders like you and I to experience and enjoy them. His legacy lives on through his family, his company, and the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation.

olive, lady hutchins

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Projects

Southland Secondary Schools Principals Association

One of the founding objectives of the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation Trust (LHCFT) is to assist people of all ages to attend outdoor education programs and experiences, especially those who might not otherwise be able to afford this.  The LHCF, therefore, gives a yearly grant to the Southland Secondary Principals Association to administer on the Trust’s behalf. 

Outdoor education programs can involve a lot of specialist equipment and support, and therefore can be expensive. But staff notice that the students gain so much self-confidence and maturity  by being involved in the programs that they run.  The grant from the LHCFT  ensures that financial hardship is not a barrier to Southland secondary students' involvement in outdoor education.

Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust

Deep Cove Outdoor Education Deep Cove/Taipaririki is an arm of Pātea/Doubtful Sound and is the starting point for many land and sea based adventures.  In 1971, the Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust (DCOET) was established to promote and educate tourists and school aged children on the importance of conservation and environmentally friendly practices in the remote Fiordland National Park.  The DCOET runs a hostel and welcomes schools from across the country to this beautiful place. 

The Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation Trust partnered with Real Journeys to provide the services of professional nature guides who spend two days delivering  conservation education to school groups.  The nature guides have a wealth of experience to share with groups, answering endless questions and supporting the school’s program.  This is free to schools, and deepens the experience that groups have while on camp.
Deep-Cove

Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust

In between Bluff and Invercargill, the small village of Omaui sits next to two reserves, one administered by the Invercargill City Council and the other by DOC, that are remnants of the lowland coastal forests that once covered the area.  There are large rātā, some up to 800 years old, rimu, totara, birds, invertebrates and native lizards.  Visitors are able to enjoy the reserves with a walking track forming a popular loop walk through the bush. 

The Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust (OLCT) has been trapping introduced mammalian predators in the reserves since 2013 in an effort to protect the bush.  In 2016, they received a grant from the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation Trust to help them in this work.  The OLCT is run by volunteers who spent many hours walking trap lines and re-setting traps.  The grant from the LHCFT allowed the OLCT to buy replacement lures and gas cylinders for the re-settable trap network that they had just established.  These traps need fewer volunteer hours to run, and free up the Trust for other jobs on the reserves such as monitoring introduced predators, bird counts and just enjoying being on the reserves. 

The bush takes time to recover from the effects of introduced predators, but the signs are encouraging.  In 2020, the OLCT volunteers are still trapping, but are also seeing large flocks of kereru and hearing groups of red-crowned kākāriki chattering to each other.

Cooper Island Restoration Project

Turning silence to the sound of birdsong

Ao-ata-te-pō /Cooper Island is situated in Tamatea/Dusky Sound, a remote fiord on the southwest corner of New Zealand, accessible only by boat or helicopter.  Once home to prolific birdlife, introduced predators have decimated the millions of birds that once made Dusky Sound their home.  Removing introduced mammals from the island protects not only the birds but their habitat and the creatures and plants that they eat.

Bird1
A $100,000 donation from the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation helped to kick off the project to remove introduced predators.  The $100,000 was primarily used to put in 12 kilometres of tracks, opening up the inland section of Island for trapping programme.
Location of stoats (red dots) and rats (orange dots) caught in May 2019
CopperIsland-Map1
Stoat control has been carried out across the island since mid-2018 using a network of 500 traps, checked four times annually, and rats have been targeted across a 170 hectare grid at the eastern end of the island using self-resetting traps. Reinvasion by both pests to Cooper Island remains a challenge, as it is within the swimming range from the surrounding mainland.
The shaded rat control block is approx 170 ha
and takes in the eastern end of Cooper Island.
CopperIsland-Map2
Species currently present on Cooper Island that are likely to benefit from low numbers of stoats include South Island kākā Nestor meridionalis meridionalis, and tawaki/Fiordland crested penguin Eudyptes pachyrhynchus. Toutouwai/ New Zealand robins were confirmed as present on the island after being seen for the first time during a trip in January 2018. Other birds heard or seen most days included miromiro/tomtits, kākāriki, and weka.  Over the next few years, the project will move toward relocating threatened species back to Ao-ata-te-pō / Cooper Island.

Whakatipu Reforestation Trust

We are delighted to support the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust’s vision, whose vision is “to restore the native biodiversity of the Whakatipu Basin through revegetation projects, collaboration, education &advocacy.”

They write: We established our Community Nursery in 2014. Thanks to the dedicated mahi of our volunteers, we have grown and planted over 65,000 native trees on public land at our keystone sites, community group sites and schools. We are creating ecological islands and corridors that provide food and habitat for native fauna while importantly engaging and empowering our communities to make a difference to the global issues of biodiversity and climate change.

We are grateful to the LHCT for generously supporting our mahi since 2015. This ongoing support enables us to run our community nursery, helps towards our ongoing expenses such as potting mix, fertiliser, plant protection and much more. Our future vision is to continue working with our local community to restore native trees and shrubs throughout the Whakatipu, so our biodiversity can thrive again, creating a legacy for future generations.

For further information on our work, including upcoming community planting days, visit our website at https://wrtqt.org.nz/

Fiordland Sponge Project

The deep, cold water in Fiordland’s fiords is home to all types of creatures. We would recognise the dolphins and seals, but we know much less about some of the other creatures living there.  Sponges are animals that spend their whole lives attached to hard surfaces and play an essential part in the fiord’s water quality and forming habitats for other creatures.

However, all might not be well with Fiordland’s sponges. Researchers were recently shocked to find many bleached sponges – animals that were usually a soft brown colour were a stark, bright, white.  James Bell, a sponge expert from Victoria University, Wellington, sought support from the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation to do urgent follow-up research to learn more about this sponge bleaching event. 

Funds from the LHCF allowed James and his team to work out that the bleached sponges are still alive but are not doing well. It allowed them to explore whether unusually high seawater temperatures are causing stress for the sponges and whether the beached sponges were more likely to be eaten by fish.  They were also able to get samples of the sponges to take back to the lab to do further research. This important research is ongoing, and the LHCF is delighted to have been able to help out.
Photo by James Bell
Photo by James Bell

Make a donation

If you would like to donate to one of our key projects below, include it in the comment section.
- Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust
- Cooper Island Restoration Project
- The Kārearea Project

Or let us pick which project needs your help the most.

Submit a proposal

The Foundation provides grants within Southland and surrounding districts which support the running, maintenance and attendance of nature based programs (including outdoor education camps) and conservation research.  

Please submit your most recent financial statements and any other supporting documentation to lhcf@realnz.com
The Trustees will be meeting to review grant applications on May 25th, August 10th and November 9th 2022.

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