This year, four groups set out to reduce their eco-footprint while also building community, forming relationships, sharing experiences, having fun and saving money.
Greener Neighbourhood groups have been going strong for two months now, with four entered in this year’s competition:
The competition kicked off in June with a launch party at the Raumati South community hall. Members from each group came along to introduce themselves, meet the judges and take part in a quiz. It poured with rain on the day, so it was a perfect afternoon for indoor activities - kids were entertained building enormous jenga castles, which were happily ignored each time they came crashing down punctuating speeches and quiz questions. The groups left in good spirits with plans to meet up, get to know each other better and talk through their group’s goals.
This year, along with our mayor, we are honoured to have on our judging team:
|Professor Brenda Vale: a leading researcher and writer in the field of sustainable housing and ecological footprinting with a focus on the sustainable development of communities.|
|Flo McNeill: a former Greener Neighbourhood participant and now Sustainability Advisor at the Sustainability Trust, Wellington. Flo is a community mover and shaker who makes things happen, instigating numerous programmes within her community including being the administrator of Paekākāriki Tauhokohoko, Friends of the Paekākāriki Streams, host of Green Tea radio show and producer of Local Table and the Paekākāriki Edible Gardens tour.|
|Robert Glensor: owner/operator or Paraoa Bakehouse/Purebread and winner of the OANZ Organic Enterprise Award and the National Sustainable Business of the Year award.|
|Anna Butterfield: a self-confessed plant geek and web freak. Anna is the director of Help Me Net, creating beautiful accessible websites particularly for small local businesses, and is also is the owner/operator of LovePlantLife, producing and selling quality seeds.|
photos by Tina McIvor
In early July, we gathered together the judges, borrowed a couple of electric cars and took a tour of the Greener Neighbourhoods groups. We began in Waikanae at Chad and Zap’s house, where an excellent discussion on the challenges and intricacies of how to go about reducing your eco footprint unfolded. Zap very honestly mooted that it wasn’t easy to voluntarily give up some hard-won consumer luxuries; there was also a lively debate about transport issues and how the eco footprint calculator works.
Next stop was Goldsborough Avenue, Raumati Beach to meet the Gabes Gold Nuggets group. This group formed last year on Neighbours Day with a meeting focusing on Civil Defence and neighbourhood security. Kate Foley, the group’s leader, reflected over what they’d done to date from garden tours to Beach clean-ups. Their focus from here on has a community feel, with a desire to encourage ecological awareness amongst the wider Raumati Beach community.
Then we took a short trip to Renown Road in Raumati South where we found the Greenown+ group busy working at Amanda’s house. They were building up the soil under the guidance of group member and gardening green thumb Rebecca Foley. Our arrival was the perfect excuse for a well earned cuppa. Over tea and coffee, Rob Kennedy outlined the group’s objectives, which focused on ridding Raumati South of pests, establishing a community beehive and building up each others’ gardens.
From here we headed up to Ōtaki to visit the Pounamu Ōtaki group who were busy working in Maraea Heke’s garden. Rotaana, Mereana, Denise and their tamariki harvested and split beans in preparation for spring planting, while Toni and Maraea made a hugel. It was late in the afternoon and we enjoyed a cup of tea with milk from the local cow, and heard how Maraea and other group members manage to almost entirely avoid using single use plastic.
No8 Wire Week
The following week many of the Greener Neighbourhood groups took part in No8 Wire Week, a programme designed by combining the concept of the No8 Wire tent, which featured at the Sustainable Home and Garden Shows, with the midwinter educational events such as Chill Ed, which were run for and by previous Greener Neighbourhoods groups.
With workshops ranging from beekeeping, chickens, garden bed and compost building, making your own eco cleaners and kombucha, to cooking with leftovers, there were plenty of skills on offer, to help inspire groups to be more resourceful and reduce their environmental impact. Greener Neighbourhoods members were keen participants in the No8 Wire Workshops, with excellent flow on effects.
What’s happening from here?
While Greener Neighbourhoods has a level of fun and friendly competition, it’s clear the groups are all in it for the greater purpose of building relationships and improving their environments, and are keen to collaborate and join forces with other groups when opportunities arise. In September, the Raumati groups plan to join forces for the Keep NZ Beautiful Beach Cleanup and a Civil Defence information evening. The Waikanae and Ōtaki groups will also host Civil Defence meetings in their areas, open to the wider community.
Council is also supporting groups by providing free Green Gardener Workshops, Eco Home Advisor visits, Water Management and Waste Reduction workshops.