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DR GERRY (GERARD) MCSWEENEY
For services to conservation
As a university student in the 1970s, Gerry McSweeney helped fund his studies by guiding tourist walks in national parks.
Forty-five years later at the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, which he owns, he continues to guide rainforest walks and kayak trips almost every day.
"I remain just as fascinated by the wonders of nature ..." he said.
Dr McSweeney said he was humbled to be made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his efforts in conservation, as it recognised the importance of protecting natural ecosystems, native plants and animals, and those passionate about conservation.
He was a founding member of the Forest Heritage Fund committee in 1990, now the Nature Heritage Fund as of 1998 (NHF), and a member of the NHF committee until 2019.
During that time, he contributed to the protection of more than 349,000 hectares of land containing nationally significant indigenous biodiversity.
Dr McSweeney was a member of the New Zealand Conservation Authority from 2011 to 2020 and provided valuable advice to successive ministers and directors-general on a wide range of nationally significant issues — including land tenure and the development of landscape scale management of public conservation land — during that time.
His local knowledge contributed to significant additions of land to the Paparoa and Kahurangi National Parks.
He was Forest and Bird president from 2001 to 2005, remained on the executive until 2008, and has been one of the society’s three conservation ambassadors since 2011.
He was a member of the South Westland Environment and Community Advisory Group from 1990 to 1995.
Dr McSweeney, together with his wife, has contributed since 1989 to Canterbury and West Coast ecotourism through his family’s development and operation of wilderness lodges at Lake Moeraki and Arthur’s Pass, around which he has undertaken protection of threatened local species such as tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) and pest control.
He has also previously been made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for public services, Queen’s Birthday 1990, and a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, New Year 2009.