Above is DOC’s best known ambassador for the Taupo Fishery – Brenda Lawson – Taupo’s “Golden Girl” – image on right:.
(TRM suggested she cannot take her trailer display on the road these days as anywhere north of Taupo it would qualify for emergency housing and might be confiscated…)
The best description of what she does is in an old newspaper cutting from 2008 which deserves repeating today:
Brenda Lawson says with the exception of her kids, she hasn’t felt this passionate about anything since she gave up Olympic rowing.
She is referring to her new role as a Department of Conservation (DoC) community relations ranger dealing with freshwater threats – specifically pest weeds such as didymo, hornwort, egeria and other nasties which have the potential to devastate the central plateau’s waterways.
(Images of CCD warnings on right are “temporary” signs at TRM erected about 12 years ago… TRM were fined and are still being threatened by Taupo Council to remove the directional signage but these CCD signs are sacred and never mentioned…)
“I was really passionate about my rowing and I’ve loved bringing up my kids,” Ms Lawson said. “And I had never really found the thing that has motivated me since then, but this is really, really important.”
The former Olympian and rowing world champion, who competed at the Olympics in 1992 and 1996, said she’s always loved water and so the part-time job as freshwater threats ranger was a dream come true.
She got into conservation work when she was a cub leader at the Lake Taupo Sea Scouts and the cubs became involved in catching pests and learning about native birds with “Didymo Dave” Cade.
Then Ms Lawson began helping out with didymo awareness at events such as the Taupo Half Ironman, dipping wetsuits and working with Didymo Dave.
As well as keeping didymo awareness in the public eye, Ms Lawson works with shops and DoC licence agents as well as at big events.
She said her biggest goal was to motivate people to look after their waterways, because in nine years 200 South Island rivers have been infected and she’d hate to see it happen in Taupo and Rotorua.
“We’re so blessed with these beautiful lakes and rivers, so we have to think about protecting them.
“The major threats at the moment are alligator weed, which is in the lower Waikato and is usually transportable by boats, and the other big one is didymo.”
Ms Lawson said there was a risk that people are becoming complacent about didymo because it’s not in the North Island yet, but the likely effects of didymo in the central plateau are unknown.
Ms Lawson said people should not be afraid to protect their water.
“We need to make sure that we’re watching out for anyone that’s moving around waterways … it’s about protecting our patch. It’s about New Zealanders looking after New Zealand water for the future.”
Have you anglers noticed in all these images of anglers access signs there are CCD (Check Clean Dry) have plastic bottles hanging around waiting to remind anglers of their duty to keep their tackle clean and avoid any risk of spreading disease.
Can you identify all the access points? If not, you have not been trying hard enough…
Don’t some people in DOC do a wonderful job looking after our anglers access with signage and reminding anglers of the need to practice CCD (CHECK CLEAN DRY).
Brenda Lawson is DOC’s best recognised and hardest working Ranger dedicated to maintain the momentum of the campaign to prevent the spread of didymo in particular, but also all other pest weeds such as hornwort, egeria and other nasties.
Take a bow Brenda…