2016 Green Ribbon Award winners

The Minister for the Environment, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister of Conservation, the Hon Maggie Barry, announced the winners of the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards at a ceremony at Parliament on 7 June 2016. The 2016 winners in each category are listed below.

See photos of Awards ceremony [Wellington Photos Portfolio website]

Community leadership and Supreme Winner

Te Whangai Trust
Community biodiversity

An innovative social solution, Te Whangai Trust’s community biodiversity project changes people’s lives in a meaningful and sustained way, by teaching them skills while working to restore and support the natural environment. Providing 500,000 eco-sourced native plants, education, advisory skills and over 156,000 volunteer hours each year, Te Whangai has made huge environmental strides in the Waikato region, restoring ecosystems, wildlife corridors and waterways.

Participants develop skills and future prospects through the project, and a sense of pride and accomplishment, in an activity-based learning platform. The project aims to place participants into full-time work at the end of the programme, allowing them to contribute back to the community.

For more information about Te Whangai Trust community biodiversity
[Te Whangai website]



Resilience to climate change

Carbon emissions reductions

Countdown’s commitment to environmental sustainability has seen them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions significantly. They have moved to more efficient refrigerant gases and reduced gas losses; reduced waste to landfill; and are working to reduce truck fuel emissions, and trialling and implementing energy efficient refrigeration and lighting systems. Countdown has held their emissions to 1.8 percent of their 2006 levels, despite floor space increasing by 37 percent, and achieved a 21 percent drop in electricity usage per square metre.

Countdown’s Food Rescue Programme which diverts food from landfill also contributes to its emissions reductions, as well as donating approximately 509 tonnes of food to those in need.

For more information about Countdown
[Countdown website]


Business leadership

Air New Zealand
Sustainability Programme

Air New Zealand has made a commitment to improving sustainability performance by focusing on two key areas. Firstly, to reduce its climate change impact by reducing aviation emissions and investigating renewable energy options; and secondly through support of conservation projects. Air New Zealand is acutely aware that their brand and tourism are based on the quality of the environment, and are investing in a modern fleet and operating it as efficiently as possible. They are also developing a genuinely impactful offsetting programme, and supporting climate science through partnership with Antarctica NZ.

Air New Zealand is improving their sustainability performance, and seeing how they can do better, by taking external advice and critique. Working in partnership, they are helping to bring back birdsong to our Great Walks, and also transport endangered species around New Zealand, and enable monitoring of our marine reserves. In-flight documentaries showcasing these help raise the profile of this work.

For more information about Air New Zealand Sustainability Programme
[Air New Zealand website]

Minimising our waste

Foodstuffs New Zealand
Recyclable butchery trays

Imagine 80 million non-recyclable supermarket butchery trays – they’d fill at least 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This is the number of trays that will be diverted from New Zealand’s landfill this year, thanks to innovation by Foodstuffs and Alto Packaging. They’ve developed fully recyclable plastic food trays, which are now used in 190 Foodstuffs (NZ) supermarkets nationwide – and are being rolled out to more.

The new trays are 50 percent recycled plastic, and 100 percent recyclable. Foodstuffs have spent a number of years working with Alto Packaging to develop the trays, engaging with Auckland Council and Visy Recycling. The trays are exclusive to Foodstuffs supermarkets until the end of 2016, but will then be available to other businesses, with the potential to make an even bigger difference to New Zealand’s landfill waste.

For more information about Foodstuffs NZ recyclable butchery trays
[Foodstuffs NZ website]

Protecting our biodiversity

Uawanui Project Governance Group
Uawanui Project

Collaborative and innovative, the Uawanui Project has taken a whole-community approach to improving the environmental health of the Kaituna Estuary, by managing the activities in the catchment that impact on the estuary – a “mountains-to-sea” approach.

Input from marae, iwi, individuals, business, primary industries, landowners and schools has developed a project that enables the community to manage the catchment in their everyday activities, with direct benefits to both the community’s and the environment’s health. Activities have included trapping pests, weed control, planting and monitoring. Creative thinking has led to planting of seeds from Cook’s first collections, transit of Venus celebrations, and archaeological investigations – building on the area’s history, and adding to the local community’s knowledge of their culture and where they have come from.

For more information about the Uawanui Project
[Allan Wilson Centre website]

Caring for our water

Waikato Rivercare Incorporated
Riparian restoration

A big, bold project, RiverCare’s riparian restoration has been working to improve water quality in the lower Waikato River for over 16 years. From planting 32,000 native plants in 2015 alone, and carrying out fencing and ongoing weed control, to commissioning an independent review to evaluate and improve their methods, RiverCare has worked tirelessly to restore the riparian margins of this important and high profile waterway. This work has created self-sustaining communities of native plants, which trap sediment and use run-off nutrients before they reach the river. Fencing protects the plantings by keeping stock from grazing or trampling them.

RiverCare also share their learnings with others interested in riparian restoration, adding to the general store of knowledge available to new projects. They have collaborated with a wide range of agencies, and shown innovation in their agreements with landowners to maintain fences and planting, improving the long-term sustainability of the work.

For more information about Waikato RiverCare riparian restoration
[Waikato Rivercare website]

Philanthropy and partnership

WWF - New Zealand and New Zealand Landcare Trust
Reconnecting Northland

Pulling together potential collaborators in a committed and truly visionary space, this project has created Aotearoa New Zealand’s first large-scale ecological restoration programme. Guided by Northland-based staff and a steering group, the programme encourages community-initiated projects to connect and work together, sharing energy, resources and knowledge, to create scale in their work. Reconnecting Northland is funded by three philanthropic organisations, demonstrating a new model for funders and non-government organisations to work together.

The Tindall Foundation’s vision is to help build a stronger sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand, enabling families, communities and the natural environment to thrive. This works well with community trust Foundation North (working in Auckland and Northland) who since 1988 have committed more than a billion dollars to support the region’s not-for-profit sector. The third partner is the HSBC Water Programme, a five-year programme launched in 2012 to provide and protect water sources, inform and educate communities, enable people to prosper, and to drive economic development across the world. The partners use the common areas of their visions to pool their resources, and work together to achieve much more than they could independently.

For more information about Reconnecting Northland
[Reconnecting Northland website]

Kaitiaki leadership

Ian Tarei

Ian Tarei embodies kaitiakitanga, providing an example and leadership for current and future generations. Ian manages the Omataroa Kiwi Project which controls pests and predators on nearly 7800 hectares of native and exotic forest, increasing survival rates for kiwi and other native species. It’s been Ian’s tenacity and drive that have kept the project going in the face of early funding problems, and he now mentors other iwi conservation projects to share the kaupapa and encourage others.

Addressing the declining population of not only kiwi, but also kereru and North Island robins, the environmental benefits of the Omataroa Kiwi Project have been significant with kiwi survival rates up over 50 percent. Established in a resource-stricken area with minimal support, it has been the passion of this small group of individuals that has driven the project over many years. The team also has an educational focus, working with schools, teaching pest control and passing on matauranga Ma¯ori, and training local people to undertake the work in the longer term.

For more information about Ian Tarei and the Omataroa Kiwi Project
[Kiwis for Kiwi website]

Leadership in communication and education

St Cuthbert's College
Kahunui remote campus

Living in the bush for 28 days sounds challenging, but St Cuthbert’s exciting Kahunui programme is developing a new generation of environment kaitiaki.

During their full immersion learning experience, the girls complete a social living, academic and outdoor programme. Using an innovative model and inquiry processes, students drive their learning to solve real environmental sustainability problems, developing life-long attitudes and values. Back at the main school campus, learnings and data are added to the Kahupedia wiki to share knowledge with the school community and support the ongoing development of the Kahunui environment. Students are also encouraged to transfer the sustainable practices they have learnt to home, school and their community.

For more information about St Cuthbert’s College Kahunui remote campus [St. Cuthbert's College website]