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Clutha has been granted a cash windfall from an unlikely source – online video games.

Wai Wanaka has received a $US10,000 (NZ$14,650) grant via Riot Games Social Impact Fund to continue its work in the Upper Clutha.

Los Angeles-based Riot Games is an American video game developer, publisher and e-sports tournament organiser and is the creator of popular online game League of Legends

Wai Wanaka was selected from 19,000 submissions to the fund from players all over the world spanning 18 countries and six continents

One of those players was Wai Wanaka science co-ordinator Ash Rabel, who submitted his entry late one night and was thrilled to receive notification his submission was chosen.

“We’re grateful for any support of the work we do in the Upper Clutha,” he said.

“This grant will help us deliver education and research projects in the community, and continue to engage businesses, tourists and residents to understand more about our ecosystems and how we can protect them.”

Wai Wanaka chairwoman Mandy Bell, said while the organisation had project funding to carry out specific tasks, grants such as Riot Games’ allowed it to pursue activities outside of those project scopes but were still important to the community and identified through the organisation’s Integrated Community Catchment Plan.

Wai Wanaka’s vision was for healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for future generations in the Upper Clutha and carried out work across rural, urban and tourism sectors to accelerate local action for freshwater.

In addition to carrying out education and research projects, Wai Wanaka employed up to 44 people, including a field team carrying out environmental work on farms funded by the Ministry for Primary Industry Jobs for Nature Fund.

Wai Wanaka also works in partnership with Te Kakano to carry out riparian planting across the Upper Clutha through the Wanaka Water Project.

Wai’s grant was one of 30 grants awarded to non-profit organisations nominated by players under the Riot Games Social Impact Fund – a philanthropic venture fund to make direct investments into a variety of global organisations aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The fund is an independent entity separate from Riot Games as the developer and publisher.