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Nate Wilbourne of Brightwater has received Forest & Bird’s Te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Taiao Youth Award for Youth Conservation. At 16 years old, Nate has already got an impressive resume as a budding conservationist. 


Nate's love of conservation was sparked when he spent a day tree planting at school as an eight-year-old. 


"I tell this story to everyone, but that inspired me. Learning more about our local environment and ecosystems – we were doing something to leave our environment better than we found it," Nate says. 


He's been hooked ever since, joining Forest & Bird Youth when he was 13. After discovering his region did not have a local 'Youth Hub,' Nate started one, rapidly recruiting 40 like-minded young people from across the Top of the South to plant trees and protect nature. 


"There were no opportunities for young people to get involved in conservation in our area. I wanted to meet like-minded people and make a difference," Nate says. 


He now puts hours in to help the national Forest & Bird Youth team, leading their communications hub. 


Nate also volunteers for HealthPost Nature Trust where he spends weekends working to help create a nature sanctuary in Wharariki Farewell Spit, Golden Bay – for seabirds to breed again along the cliffs and dunes, and other native species to flourish in the forests and wetlands. 


In 2023 and 2024, Nate helped with translocation of 198 pakahā fluttering shearwater chicks to the Wharariki Ecosanctuary.  He also volunteers to help boost the number of kororā little penguins and tītī sooty shearwaters in the area. 


Nate says he wants to leave the world in a better place than he found it. 


"We've got the most incredible biodiversity in Aotearoa, but that is under threat. I want to do my bit to help nature – we need to look after what we've got." 


Nate was recently awarded a 'Sustainability Champion' scholarship to attend UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany


Many young people give their time, hard work, and energy to protect and restore our unique natural environment. This award recognises that special young person who shows leadership, initiative and who is making a difference for nature. 



For his outstanding service to Forest & Bird Youth and to conservation in the Top of the South and Aotearoa New Zealand. Nate became a member of Forest & Bird Youth at 13, leading and inspiring other young people from across Nelson and the Top of the South Island. His leadership and passion have helped drive conservation efforts in Nelson and nationally.  

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