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Tackling waste reduction

As one of the participating Enviroschools, Te Karaka Area School visited the Tairawhiti Environment Centre (TEC) to learn about minimising waste through a series of Zero Waste Workshops.

Enviroschools is a nationwide programme supported by Toimata Foundation, founding partner Te Mauri Tau, and a large network of regional partners.

Tairawhiti Enviroschools is regionally co-ordinated through the Gisborne District Council.

Schools in Tairawhiti commit to a long-term sustainability journey, where tamariki connect with and explore the environment, then plan, design and take action in collaboration with their communities.

Other regions include early childhood centres in the programme, however, Tairawhiti Enviroschools is yet to extend into early childhood.

Gisborne Tairawhiti Enviroschools facilitators Kauri Forno and Kirsty Gaddum have showed Year 4, 5 and 6 students different ways to minimise waste.

Over 600 children have been exposed to ways to reduce waste in their lives, Ms Gaddum said.

“The students get to enjoy the maara kai and learn about how growing your own kai reduces waste because you’re not buying fruit and vegetables inside plastic bags,” Ms Gaddum said.

Schools are able to choose what environmental topics their students learn about.

“Students are taught about worm farms, how to compost and how to make beeswax wraps. They learn what a litter-free lunch box is and about zero waste events, such as discos with no waste,” Ms Gaddum said.

Students are taught about the six R’s — refuse, replace, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.

“We explain what a landfill is and where that rubbish goes.

“We have shared the story about the Te Araroa dump and the Paokahu landfill on Centennial Marine Drive.

“Hopefully, by exposing children and teachers to this kaupapa, they will take home at least one small habit that will change their lifestyle and start them on a journey of waste reduction.”

The children have loved learning about waste minimisation, Ms Gaddum said.

Along with hosting the groups at TEC, the staff supported the delivery of the programme.

Stephanie Temple ran the reduce/reuse/recycle session at the centre and Katie Foxley helped with worm farming and composting in the garden.

Enviroschools utilises the Gisborne District Council ReThink space at TEC for their education programmes.

“This programme, that we were thankfully able to reschedule following the March/April lockdown, was designed to include sessions with TEC staff to broaden topics that the students could engage with,” TEC general manager Rena Kohere said.

“This model works well as we can draw on each other’s strengths and expertise to provide Tairawhiti tamariki with the resources and knowledge to engage with environmental issues that resonate with them and their communities.”

“These workshops have been a wonderful opportunity to welcome students into the GDC ReThink space at the Tairawhiti Environment Centre, and maximise its use and resources,” Darnelle Timbs, Tairawhiti Enviroschools regional co-ordinator and GDC waste-minimisation facilitator said.

“The workshops have provided a great collaboration between Tairawhiti Enviroschools and the Environment Centre, as well as being able to showcase and introduce students to other local organisations doing brilliant work to minimise waste such as Gizzy Kai Rescue.

“In these current times and the importance of community resilience in response to the events of this year, learning about growing your own kai and reducing the environmental impact of our waste is timely,” Ms Timbs said.

Sustainable living: Te Karaka Area School visted the Tairawhiti Environment Centre to learn about minimising waste. Picture by Liam Clayton
Litter-free lunch: Indy Baker and Amaia McGregor showing the difference between a lunch box with litter and one without. Picture by Liam Clayton