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Sally Richardson of Warkworth has been awarded Forest & Bird’s prestigious Old Blue award for her outstanding contribution to Forest & Bird and to conservation over more than two decades.  

Sally was chair of the Warkworth Area Branch for more than eight years until 2023 and a long-time committee member. She has also played important roles in other conservation projects, including the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary Society, which she has chaired since 2023 and many education projects throughout the Auckland region.  

Former Warkworth Area Branch secretary Raewyn Morrison said Sally has played a key role in numerous conservation projects in the region as well as being a powerful advocate for nature. “Sally personifies Forest & Bird’s values and is a force for nature,” she said.  

Sally said she was honoured to receive the award but added the key to her achievements was the people around her.  

“It’s been so important to me to have people around me who are workers. Our team work means we have had some impressive achievements around this area,” she said.  

Sally retired from teaching last year after a half century career, which helped develop her formidable organisation skills. She would often take children out to islands such as Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf and she also led adult groups to islands, including Hauturu Little Barrier Island, and Whakaari White Island.  

“I think it’s important to give people the chance to see what’s around them and what they can do to protect it. It’s all about advocacy, people only care about the things they know about,” she said.  

As part of her advocacy role, Sally has organised winter talks and summer walks for the branch and works closely with communities, schools, agencies, iwi, media, and businesses in her region.   

Sally played a leading organising and hands-on role in Pest Free Warkworth, and in restoring Kōwhai Park among her other local conservation projects.  

At the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary, near Warkworth, she has been involved in the nursery which propagates up to 20,000 plants each year, kiwi call monitoring and for 10 years the monitoring and feeding of takahē.  

She volunteers helping Council rangers in the park and has also been involved in species relocations, including kīwī, wetapunga and lizards. In 2006 Sally won a Royal Society Fellowship and spent the year promoting New Zealand reptiles.  

Twice a year, she also takes a group of volunteers to the Chatham Islands, Rēkohu, to do conservation and gardening work.

Sally said her main legacy is the education of students – opening their eyes to nature and trying to remedy some of the unfortunate environmental mistakes our forebears made.          

Sally’s Old Blue award was announced at Forest & Bird’s annual AGM on Saturday (June 22). 

The Old Blue is awarded by New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation to people who have made an outstanding contribution to Forest & Bird or the organisation’s conservation goals.  

The award commemorates the last breeding female black robin, karure or kakaruia, which thanks to work led by pioneering conservationist Don Merton, saved her species from extinction in the 1980s.  


For her outstanding service to Forest & Bird and conservation, especially in the Auckland region. The long-time Warkworth Area member chaired the branch for more than eight years and has been active in branch projects such as Kōwhai Park and the Sesquicentennial Walkway. Sally has also played important roles in other major conservation projects, including Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary and in teaching students of all ages about the environment for over 50 years. 

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