Otorohanga sheep and beef farmer Arthur Cowan has dedicated decades of his life to conservation work.
Every year, assisted by a band of helpers, he plants about 4000 flaxes and native trees in reserves and covenanted areas on private land. He is also actively involved in pest control and is renowned for trapping wild cats in a trap he invented himself.
In the 1970s, Mr Cowan helped to save kiwi on land being developed in Northland, driving from Otorohanga every Friday night to trap birds and release them in safe areas with a group of others. On one occasion, he mortgaged his own farm to prevent a block of land being sold to a developer, and sold it to the Department of Conservation 3 years later.
Now in his nineties, Mr Cowan is a long-time member of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, and has been a recipient of the prestigious Old Blue award for outstanding work in conservation. An enthusiastic covenanter of land to protect native vegetation, he is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Regional Environment (ACRE).
Mr Cowan was a founding member of the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust and a former director of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. He served on the Otorohanga Zoological Committee for 13 years.
Mr Cowan’s venison sausages and billy tea continue to be a highlight of plantings and field trips.