The Wakatipu Wildlife Trust says it's "beyond honoured" to have the support of former prime minister Sir Bill English as its new patron.
The announcement that Sir Bill has been apppointed to the role of patron was made at a function at Lake Hayes last night and marked his first public engagement since receiving a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours on Monday.
"What a treat it was to celebrate everyone's hard work and the Trust's one year anniversary with our new Patron, Sir William English, last night," the trust wrote on its Facebook page today.
"We are beyond honoured to have Bill's support and are chuffed he chose us as his first public engagement after his Knighthood last weekend."
The gathering included volunteers from the 15 community groups the trust oversees and supports, The Otago Daily Times reports.
The Wakatipu Wildlife Trust is an environmental charity with the goal of creating and expanding predator-free zones throughout the Wakatipu Basin to bring back native wildlife and birdsong.
''Predator Free NZ is a brilliant generational challenge to restore our environment," Sir Bill said.
''I support Wakatipu Wildlife Trust because this community effort makes the vision possible in this beautiful landscape, and it's our bit of the national mission.''
The volunteers have reportedly caught more than 1600 rats, possums and stoats in the past 12 months.