Winners for big Auckland Environment Awards announced

Press Release – Auckland Council
The supreme winner of this year’s Auckland Council Sustainable Environment Awards has been praised by judges as a model for other communities.

Sustainable Paremoremo – a network of community groups with a multitude of projects on the go in the Paremoremo area – took top honours at the awards event held at the Town Hall last night.

Weed and pest eradication, rubbish clean ups, community gardening, plantings, wharf care, the creation of a nut and fruit tree collection, a youth employment scheme and a neighbourhood support group are among the many projects the network has underway.

Sustainable Paremoremo began in 2007, when a small group of people came together with a common love of the local natural environment, and a common goal to strengthen their community.

Their motto is “Care for ourselves, our families, our neighbours and our environment.”

The judges’ notes praised the group, which also won the community category, for providing a model for other communities to emulate.

“You are a highly motivated, enthusiastic group. Your energy and passion is fantastic. The strong structures and systems you have in place, along with an underlying vision and philosophy to ‘go where the energy is’, is sustaining growth and will undoubtedly ensure the overall sustainability and long term success of the project in the future.”

Other category winners named at the prestigious sustainable awards are Isabelle Verney (Youth), John Smith (Individual) and Owairaka District School (School).

Environment and Sustainability Forum chair and award judge Wayne Walker says the awards celebrate the people leading the region towards sustainability.

“We have a vision to make Auckland the world’s most liveable city, and a big part of that is putting a focus on environmental action and green growth. I want to acknowledge all the wonderful work happening to help us to realise that vision,” he says.

“I want to especially congratulate Sustainable Paremoremo. I know them well – they are in my ward, and I have been to their meetings – and I find them to be an incredibly passionate, dynamic and practical group of local people that are having a hugely positive affect on the Paremoremo area.”

Sustainable Paremoremo
This group is going from strength to strength, since it started out in 2007, with more participants and more programmes on the go. Some measurable impact includes:
• Over 120 properties are now actively involved in pest eradication
• Volunteers attended various roadside planting days, in the community, at the wharf and at Lucas Reserve
• Plantings of gardens at Ridgeview School, as well as 30 fruit trees such as feijoa, plum, apple, mandarin, lemon and yellow guava. Around 20-30 children attend the weekly garden club
• Two residents are now qualified home coaches through the Home Star energy efficiency programme
• Around 10-12 people are in the seed swap and cuttings group, which meets monthly
• The Pare Publisher goes to nearly 1500 people in the local area every month

Isabelle Verney, former Takapuna Grammar School student,
Isabelle joined her secondary school’s enviro group during her first year at the school. Her interest and ‘action’ grew and gained momentum over her six years in the group, and as she grew in confidence, she stepped into leadership roles.

She counts one of her biggest successes as organising the Conscious Consumer workshop, which became part of the curriculum for all Year 9s. Her litter monster – presented at school assembly to raise awareness of litter and the school enviro group – was another highlight.

Isabelle was part of the Make a Difference Sustainability Forum, the Sir Peter Blake Youth Enviro Leaders Forum and the London International Youth Science Forum, where she led a debate on renewable energy.

John Smith / Volunteer on Te Araroa track, restoration work at Puhinui Stream
Te Araroa is a 3000-km trail stretching from Cape Reinga to Bluff – one of the longest walking routes in the world. John Smith has been the self-appointed project manager on the Manukau section of the track since 2001.

This determined leader and motivator of others made key recommendations on the route, and brought together multiple agencies to ensure it could proceed.

John was also instrumental in the restoration of the Puhinui Stream, where volunteers planted 6300 colonising plants in 2011.

Owairaka District School – Creating a sustainable school community
Environmental awareness is one of the four curriculum pillars at Owairaka District School – right up there with literacy, numeracy and love of learning.

All 360 students are involved in sustainable activities at the school, together with staff, families and the local community.

Everyone is encouraged to have a voice in shaping the projects, at all stages of the projects – and to take part in making it happen.

Gardens burst with life all around the school grounds, from vegetable gardens that produce fresh food for students to bring home, to the native plants of the rongoa garden where the children learn about traditional Maori medicine. A butterfly garden is planted to attract the insects to the school. Other gardens reflect the cultural diversity of the school community, including a colourful Indian garden, a peaceful Zen garden, and a fale and Pasifika garden. They are now researching ideas for an African garden.

Other initiatives include composting and worm farms, a Fruit in Schools programme, waste auditing, and an ‘Enviro Thinkers’ group to encourage others to take action.

‘Green Ticket’ prizes are given out to students ‘caught’ taking positive environmental action, and a ‘Turn off the lights’ campaign is also running.

Click here for the full list of winners.

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