ECHB sustainability coordinator, Togia Lui with Jane Lui at Farmers’ Market

While goals aplenty are being scored on the netball courts and hockey pitches at the Mitre10 Park Hawke’s Bay, Park management, in partnership with the Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay (ECHB) and Hastings District Council, are well on their way to achieving their own goal of Zero Waste at the hugely popular and rapidly expanding Percival Road sports complex. 

As well as upcycling, repurposing and recycling e-waste — and other recyclable goods, such as plastics, (including No 5 plant pots), batteries, electric blankets etc. — the ECHB also promotes a ‘Zero Waste Programme’ for event organisers.

The Centre can supply bins for small events as well as managing the waste from larger multi-day events. The Farmers’ Market in Hastings, Black Barn and the Mitre10 Park are just three of many local organisations which are pro-actively reducing waste. 

In a win-win arrangement, “Our Waste Warriors help event-goers place their waste into the correct bin,” says the Centre’s new general manager, Emma Horgan-Heke. “At the Farmers’ Market we divert a high percentage of waste from landfill, with around 85% going to BioRich where it is composted and we’re currently working with Council and the Farmers’ Market to see how we can take sustainability further.”

Black Barn’s manager, Francis de Jager, is right behind the concept. “At Black Barn, we don’t take our natural wonderland for granted,” he told me. “We are committed to minimising waste, conserving and reusing our resources, ultimately working towards Zero Waste Events. The Environment Centre, with their Waste Minimisation Heroes stationed around the amphitheatre, separate the waste correctly, allowing over 95% of event waste to be diverted from landfill to be recycled.”

HDC’s waste minimisation officer, Cloe Vining, also responded to my enquiry enthusiastically. “The Environment Centre has been essential to the trial of running waste stations at Saturday netball at the Mitre10 Park,” she says. “With approximately 6,000 players and spectators visiting on Saturdays, it has been a great opportunity to normalise waste minimisation at events. We hope to see this expanded across all Hawke’s Bay events in time.” 

“We’re grateful to be partnering with Hastings District Council and the Environment Centre to start our recycling journey,” reports the Park’s event manager, Sarah Kay. “So far, we’ve seen great value in this relationship and, since we started, we’ve received fantastic feedback from the public. We look forward to seeing this area grow.”

Clearly, this is a community programme which is achieving spectacular results.

“Waste at events is a very current topic and we are developing better practices for events in Napier,” Napier City Council’s event manager, Kevin Murphy, told Bay Buzz.

“Identifying what are the best products to use has been a real challenge for the event sector. For example, some cups promoted as ‘compostable’ have proven to be difficult to break down.”

Kevin mentioned that rugby at McLean Park will be trialling a new system for recycling and, with bigger events, the Council is starting to discuss new options with Closed Loop. This is a locally-based company which has been involved in waste management for many years and is a leader in the festival/music scene.

Greg Schicker from Closed Loop will lead a Waste Panel at the NZ Event Conference due to be hosted in Hawke’s Bay in September.

Emma told me that another organisation doing fantastic mahi (work) in this field is Para Kore (Zero Waste).

Para Kore has a vision for all marae to be working towards zero waste by 2025.

It offers a free service and delivers education and training on marae to create behaviour change that aligns with the principles of a circular economy, by eliminating waste in the planning process, sorting waste to minimise the amount going to landfill and educating whānau about how to reduce plastic and recycling.

And it’s working. The statistics on its website are impressive — 476 Para Kore Marae, 557.93 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill, and 416,673 participants at presentations, wananga (tertiary institutions) and events.

I spoke with Grace Ormond, who is Para Kore’s kaiārahi (guide) for Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay. She’s passionate about her role. “I believe it is the best way to live today,” she says. “It empowers people to look at things the way our tīpuna (ancestors) did by connecting to and working with Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) and Nature.”

She noted that, after a huge attendance celebrating Matariki at the Ātea A Rangi Star Compass in Waitangi Regional Park recently, there were literally only a couple of handfuls of rubbish to pick up at the end.

Emma was full of praise for their efforts, “Our colleagues at Para Kore do an amazing job. We’re actively looking for projects we can collaborate on, as we believe the more of us in the ‘Zero Waste Space’, the better the outcomes will be for future generations.”

For more information about Para Kore, check out: http://parakore.maori.nz

The ECHB at 1004 Karamu Road North in Hastings also offers an Eco-Store refill service (bring your own containers) and arranges Waste Tours for children in Hastings District which is a great idea. After all, they are inheriting the damage and pollution caused by present and past generations and want to know how they can help save and preserve the planet for their generation and beyond.

To find out more about the Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay, head to:-  https://www.environmentcentre.org or, if you’d like to volunteer, phone (06) 8704942.

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