By Samantha Gee, Nelson Mail – June 24 2018
An “extremely private” Auckland couple who have committed $25 million to restoring biodiversity in the Abel Tasman National Park have been recognised with a national award.
Neal and Annette Plowman were revealed in 2014 as the funders behind Project Janszoon, a comprehensive bid to restore the flora and fauna of the Abel Tasman over 30 years.
The couple were awarded the Kea World Class NZ Supreme Award on Thursday for their philanthropy. The annual awards recognise inspirational Kiwis making outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural development.
The Plowmans made their fortune from a laundry business, founded in 1910 by George Plowman, that became New Zealand Towel Services and was sold to an American company Alsco in 1998. They also founded and sold multiplex cinema chain, Hoyts.
Project Janszoon was established in 2012 and works in partnership with the Department of Conservation to enhance native forest and birdlife over almost 80 per cent of the national park within 30 years.
Former project director Devon McLean said the couple were known to be extremely private, but he thought they were “quietly very happy” with the recognition.
“They got a wonderful standing ovation from the crowd…I think they felt very much appreciated by New Zealand.”