Myself as nominator first met Tash when she applied for the job as a Nanny for my 4 year old (now 13 year old) daughter, living in a remote area of the Marlborough Sounds. Within hours of starting she was out in the dinghy, with oars only, with my daughter, looking for Dolphins. Today, almost a decade later she is a former guide for Dolphin Watch, Picton, Mum of son ‘Blue’ (no prizes for guessing what he is named after – the ocean), co-founder of Conservation Kids NZ (“Conservation + Kids = Our Future”), whose Partnerships include Department of Conservation, Lochmara Lodge Wildlife Recovery Centre, the former National Whale Centre, and Project Jonah. She is also the founder of the EnviroHub, Picton, former Marketing & Project Manager of the Lochmara Lodge Underwater Observatory, responsible for its establishment (https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/84691895/seabed-classroom-aims-to-protect-marlboroughs-marine-environment) and setup (https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/nz/88226928/marlborough-underwater-observatory-showcases-gentle-side-of-stingray) , part-time vet nurse and wife of Paul Luxton (a former kayaking guide, sail maker and diver) and a passionate volunteer of all things ocean.
This is an account of a recent visit to her home:
Tash is before us, like a real-life mermaid with her long platinum blonde hair and emanating positivity, and inspiration. We are all eating takeaways on our laps as the dining room table is taken up with brochures and activities, waiting to be packed for a Conservation Kids NZ free boat trip out to the Sounds to spot sea life (there were over 50 parents and kids on the boat the next day). The visitors (myself and 13-year-old daughter) are gathered in, happily tasked to bundle up the brochures on Conservation Kids NZ, the protocol for boating around and info on Marine Mammals in the Marlborough Sounds. All this time I am being quietly groomed to volunteer at a recent start up project of hers, the Envirohub in Picton. (see http://www.pictonresource.co.nz/envirohub-marlborough.html)
No one can say no to Tash, least of all any boat or tourism operator in Marlborough/Nelson. She is well known and extremely well-liked, with the ability to engage with the younger generation, business owners, and apply for and gain grants, funding and sponsorship that benefit her numerous ocean causes and education programs.
Out in a boat, she is never seen without either a microphone and/or the binoculars around her neck, spotting and announcing every bird, mammal or ocean scene that some of us would only give half a look but somehow it is suddenly extremely interesting! When not ‘front of house’ (Tash is usually presenting and facilitating some event, trip or activity on or about the ocean) Tash, Paul and Blue are out on the water, looking for and photographing the marine life, always fascinated, enthusiastic and careful to keep respectable distances.
Tash is a true ocean champion, iwth her mantra “Conservation + Kids = Our Future”. Her achievements, energy and passion are an inspiration to us all.
Nominated by: Leanne Schmidt on 28 January 2018