Green ad­vo­cate earns QSM

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By KIRI GILLE­SPIE

“I guess not too many peo­ple have a kiwi sit­ting by their pi­ano.”

Ca­role Long walks across her Mount Maun­ganui liv­ing room and picks up the per­spex box con­tain­ing Koro the kiwi — aptly named “be­cause he’s like an old man“. She ex­plains how Koro helps her teach chil­dren about New Zealand’s na­tive wildlife.

The 76-year-old with strong links to Te Puke through her work with For­est and Bird and the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust, re­ceived a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for ser­vices to con­ser­va­tion in this week’s Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours.

The sprightly pen­sioner has al­ways loved the out­doors. But it was when she was 12 that her fate, and life-long pas­sion, was sealed.

Hav­ing joined her fa­ther for some Land In­for­ma­tion New Zealand work in the South Is­land, Long found “a beau­ti­ful yel­low toad­stool’’ and picked it to show her dad. Long didn’t get in trou­ble. In­stead, she was told how 200 other peo­ple could have prob­a­bly also ap­pre­ci­ated the toad­stool’s beauty — had she not picked it.

“That re­ally stayed with me, what he said.”

Long has served at ev­ery level of the Royal For­est and Bird Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety of New Zealand, in­clud­ing two terms on its ex­ec­u­tive board. She worked for the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and helped to es­tab­lish, and be­come the long­est-serv­ing volunteer for, Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust.

She was “ab­so­lutely stunned’’and “very hon­oured’’ to re­ceive a QSM.

“I’m just a keen con­ser­va­tion­ist I sup­pose and I just love our pro­tected ar­eas and all the birds, and ba­bies. Look around my walls — it’s all birds and ba­bies.”

Pictures of some of her 13 grand­chil­dren and six great­grand­chil­dren sit near her break­fast bar and var­i­ous bird me­men­tos adorn her liv­ing room.

And, of course, Koro: “He’s my buddy.”

PHOTO: GE­ORGE NOVAK

Queen’s Ser­vice Medal re­cip­i­ent Ca­role Long with kiwi Koro, which usu­ally sits next to her pi­ano at home. The Mount Maun­ganui woman has been hon­oured for her tire­less con­ser­va­tion work.

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