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Working together for change

So much has been happening here over the last couple of months, where do I start?! If you were following our Facebook pages and groups like Plastic Free Te Hiku you’ll have a good idea of how extraordinarily well our campaign for Plastic Free July went this year, and the growing momentum for change away from single use plastics in our rohe.

There was far too much happening to cover in detail in one post thanks to the hard mahi put in by our team, lead by our Maruao, Waikarere Gregory. Over the coming weeks we’ll feature different aspects of the campaign, but below you’ll find a summary of events and achievements.

And of course it didn’t all end on the 31st July! Kaitāia Kete t-shirt bag workshops are still happening, and a monthly sewing bee for machine sewing cloth shopping bags is being arranged. You don’t need to be a whizz with a machine to help at those either, there’s lots of cutting out to do too! Keep an eye on Facebook for workshop dates.

Huge thanks to the Working Together More Fund, and Good in the Hood which enabled us to run such a successful campaign. The main achievements were

  1.  raising community awareness of the problems, introducing alternatives and launching our local branded reusable “Kai taia kete”

  2. engaging with local businesses, especially cafes, restaurants and takeaways, to address the issue of single use plastic, discussing and encouraging the use of alternatives.

  3. lobbying local council and government to introduce a refundable levy on plastic drink bottles, aluminium and glass drink containers.

We had a huge growth in numbers visiting the EcoCentre, introducing more people to a wider range of options for living more sustainably, not just free from single use plastic.

We held workshops making t shirt bags at pre-schools, schools, kohanga, kura, a marae, REAP and Te Ahu Community Centre, involving pupils, teachers, parents, grandparents, PD Workers, PFK volunteers and general public. Also workshops exploring bamboo as a substitute for plastic. They were as much a social occasion as a learning one and the general kōrero and networking were a bonus.

We held 5 stalls at Kaitaia market offering locally made plastic alternatives and engaging with members of the wider Te Hiku community. Regular stall holders mentioned a noticeable reduction in customers requesting plastic bags, well done Kaitāia!

There is a vibrant social media connection happening on our Facebook page, over 1200 members exchanging experiences, tips and resources. Local newspapers carried news of our events.

We had some high profile support – MP Matt King, and Community Board Chair Adele Gardner, helped us with a Bottle Buy Back funded by local businesses, a national record was made in recyclables taken over the four hour period. Signatures were also collected for the petition to government to introduce a Container Deposit Scheme and John Carter, Far North District Council Mayor, supported our campaign and attended three of our events.

Competitions for individuals brought in a wealth of entries from across the community helping people focus on what positive changes they can and do make (winners featured above with John Carter, Adele Gardner & Waikarere Gregory).

A number of businesses have committed to using alternatives to plastic, others supported customers to bring their own containers, six of them competed for our award for Best Plastic Free Kaitāia Business, 2018.

We met with Plastic Free Kaeo and PF Kerikeri groups and attended a composting hui in Paihia with 75 participants from the Far North. Kaeo are now hoping to set up something like our EcoCentre as a focus for their local activities!

Collaborating with other organisations, combining skills, resources, energy and ideas and sharing responsibilities, allowed for a much greater reach out into the community particularly in promotional work. In addition to the original partners, two Far North REAP employees and the FNDC Community Development Officer came on board and provided considerable, much appreciated support.

A great momentum has been created in working towards Plastic Free Kaitāia 2020. A noticeable increase has been gained in community awareness, and significant concern has been raised about the effect of plastics on our marine environment and creatures, resulting in ongoing activities such as regular clean-ups.

Of course none of this would have been possibly without the tautoko of our community, homai te paki paki! When we work together we can achieve so much.

The partner organisations working together (officially and unofficially) on Plastic Free Kaitaia 2020 and promoting Plastic Free July were; Te Pōkapu Tiaki Taiao O Te Tai Tokerau/Far North Environment Centre, CBEC Ecosolutions, Para Kore, Papa Taiao Earthcare, Te Hiku Maara Kai, Kiwi Bottle Drive, Far North REAP, Transition Towns Kaitaia, Kaitaia TimeBank and FNDC.

by Nancy Gregory & Anna Dunford

ps apologies for the long silence on here – I maintain the website and was in the UK for 10 weeks and out of the loop somewhat, lousy timing I know! Anna

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