Christchurch City Council ranger, Steve Leiataua, has received the Recreation Aotearoa Awards Ian Galloway Memorial Cup for outstanding contribution in parks, amenity horticulture and open spaces at Bottle Lake Forest.
Mr Leiataua has worked in parks for more than 40 years. He started in 1981 as a cadet in Auckland – the Council’s first Samoan ranger – before moving south.
He became a park ranger at Waimairi County Council, carrying on through the 1989 amalgamation into Christchurch City Council.
“I am just over the moon,” Steve said of his award.
“It was a long road to get here, there have been ups and downs. But it’s been so good to work for the community and work with some great people. I really love it.”
Christchurch City Council says he has literally built parks from the ground up, constructing roads, bridges, tracks and even the visitors centre at Bottle Lake Forest.
“One of the highlights for me over the years has to be watching and working with staff as they come and go. It’s about people and watching them grow, helping them along the way,” he says.
For the past two decades, he has been the Ranger Project Manager responsible for Spencer, Seafield, Coastal Parks and part of Brooklands Lagoon.
“I’ve loved watching Spencer Park evolve over the years. There’s been a lot of change, especially with the earthquake in there and we’re still working through things,” he said.
“I simply enjoy the place. People having picnics, camping or cycling right through to Bottle Lake. It’s just great.”
He’s dubbed the area “The Destination” which is catching on with his colleagues.
“It’s the end of the road, it’s The Destination. Spencer Park has been part of the fabric for a very long time and I think it deserves the title.”
Head Ranger Coastal and Plains, Robbie Hewson said Steve is “one of the absolute most beloved rangers.”
“Steve is a figure of mana. I looked up to Steve when I first started on the team, and I still do. This is one of the most prestigious awards in the parks space and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving,” he said.
Council Head of Parks, Andrew Rutledge said the award was well deserved.
“It brought a tear to my eye. I’m so proud of the work Steve and the team does. That amazing smile will be shining even brighter,” he said.