Games firm fund helps eco work

Conservation work in the Upper Clutha has been granted a cash windfall from an unlikely source — an online video game company.

WAI Wanaka has received a $US10,000 ($NZ14,650) grant via the Riot Games Social Impact Fund, to continue its work in the Upper Clutha.

Los Angeles firm Riot Games is a video game developer and publisher and e-sports tournament organiser, and is the creator of popular online game League of Legends.

WAI Wanaka was selected from 19,000 submissions to the fund from players all over the world spanning 18 countries and six continents.

One of those players was WAI Wanaka science co-ordinator Ash Rabel, who submitted his entry late one night and was thrilled to receive notification his submission had been chosen.

"We’re grateful for any support of the work we do in the Upper Clutha," he said.

"This grant will help us deliver education and research projects in the community, and continue to engage businesses, tourists and residents to understand more about our ecosystems and how we can protect them."

WAI Wanaka chairwoman Mandy Bell said that while the organisation had project funding to carry out specific tasks, grants such as the one from Riot Games allowed it pursue activities that were outside those project scopes but were still important to the community and identified through WAI’s integrated community catchment plan.

The organisation’s vision was for healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for future generations in the Upper Clutha.

It carried out work across rural, urban and tourism sectors to accelerate local action for freshwater.

In addition to carrying out education and research projects, WAI Wanaka employed up to 44 people, including a field team carrying out environmental work on farms funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Jobs for Nature fund.

It also worked in partnership with Te Kakano to carry out riparian planting across the Upper Clutha, through the Wanaka Water Project.

WAI’s grant was one of 30 grants awarded to non-profits nominated by players under the Riot Games Social Impact Fund - a philanthropic venture fund to make direct investments into a variety of global organisations aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The fund is an independent entity, separate from Riot Games as the developer and publisher.

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