Panui October 2009

Posted 11 years, 6 months ago    2 comments

Panui, October 2009

Our regular mailouts of news, issues and events should keep you up to date with the day to day activities of the Environment Centre but eventually the time rolls around for another Panui. The following is a general round up of activities within and supported by the FNEC this year.

The Sustainable Living Activation Programme is progressing well as it enters the second year of operation. This programme, which is open to all residents of the Far North, offers a free assessment of a household's ecological footprint, following this up with a report which includes some tips on how to reduce that footprint plus some items to help the household achieve those reductions.

The Ecological Footprint assessment estimates the area of land and ocean required to support your consumption of food, goods, services, housing, and energy and assimilate the wastes that are generated. Expressed in "global hectares" (gha), the footprint is broken down into four consumption categories: - Carbon (home energy use and transportation) - Food - Housing - Goods and services. Participants have found it helpful in identifying areas where they can improve the sustainability of their households and many have responded positively, pleased that their actions have resulted in economies for the household budget as well as being good for the planet!

With resources and networks now well set up, the Sustainable Living Activation Programme is in full swing and the Environment Centre is pleased to welcome an additional staff member onto the team here. Suzanne Holmes joined us in August and is focussed on delivering the programme. If you would like to complete a house ecological footprint questionnaire and discuss steps towards making your lifestyle more sustainable, please feel free to contact Suzanne at 4081086 or email .

Senior students at Kaitaia College are investigating issues around climate change. Richard and Suzanne were there recently to discuss ways they can reduce their ecological footprint as part of the Sustainable Living Activation Programme.

School and Community Gardens are becoming ever more popular around the Far North and the Environment Centre continues to support the establishment of organic food gardens, actively participating in the construction of Organiponico Raised Beds at 16 sites so far this year. Organic gardens are a great place to learn that caring for the planet and caring for our own health are inextricably related missions - plus everyone enjoys the chance to get out of the classroom or office! Soozee will continue to be available for help with planning gardens or natural areas around schools or community sites and can be contacted on 4081086 or

Ahipara School’s year 5 and 6 class have picked up the gardening mantle from the students who started growing food last year. Here Karen Myer's class plan spring planting for the Organiponico raised beds, built last year with help from Northtec, TOPIS, Te Oranga and the Environment Centre.

Recycling, organic weed control and teamwork were all part of the morning's lesson for these year 5 and 6 students at Pukepoto as they lined and filled the new terrace garden built with FNEC support

The fun part is plastering the outside of the wall! The new Organiponico bed will extend the food production potential within their grounds. The first garden, built last year, has been in continual use and some delicious meals and preserves have been prepared from the produce. With the extended space, each class will be vying to produce vegetables both familiar and novel as they gear up for another round of propagation.

The Manawhenua Challenge for Organic Growers.It was great to see results from our involvement in the promotion of organic food growing in schools and community last year. Kohukohu School really embraced the concept as a whole school activity, reaping the rewards not only in learning and fresh kai but also winning the Taitokerau Organics' Manawhenua Challenge for young organic growers. Pictured here, Principal Tania Filia presents some of the displays created by her students describing their gardening efforts - and accepts the Manawhenua prize at a hui at Roma Marae, Ahipara.

This year's Manawhenua Challenge was officially launched at the Taitokerau Organics (TOPIS) AGM, held at Towai in September.Taitokerau Organics Kaumatua Percy Tipene, seated at left, declared the youth gardening competition open during the weekend hui which brought together novice and seasoned gardeners to share skills, inspiration and fine organic food. The Challenge continues to grow and attract support from a range of agencies. TOPIS special facilitator, Anna Tripp, is available to help groups wishing to enter the Challenge. Anna can be contacted on or 021 0515583

Runners up in the 2007-8 Manawhenua Challenge, Mangonui Primary School, continue to expand their school gardening endeavours. The recent planting of 30 fruit trees on the school grounds marked the start of a planned 'food forest' project.

The Environment Centre will continue to support schools in their efforts to establish organic food gardens and can offer planning help and some class time as resources allow. We also have a set of Organiponico moulds for building the raised beds and these are available for koha.

The Weedbusters project at Tokerau Beach has had a huge boost with help from the community service team who have been hacking down the cape honeyflower and the gorse invading the dune area. Additional help came from the Conservation Corps trainees who planted some 80 Project Crimson Pohutukawa trees along the inland edge of the dunes in early August. Volunteers will be needed through the coming months to continue the weed control work and to mulch the pohutukawas to 'drought-proof' the young trees for the summer. Keep an eye out for Weedbuster day flyers, or contact Soozee if you would like to help.

The Conservation Corps team continued their hard work on the Karikari Peninsular, spending a couple of days building Organiponico beds at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Rangiawhia. Perry oversees construction of the first 7 metre garden...

...and the boys sort out the second one themselves.

Another gardening project supported by the Environment Centre, the Mara Kai Community Garden by the former nurses' home, is gradually transforming an area of lawn into productive gardens. Te Hauora O Te Hiku O Te Ika provide the site and ongoing enthusiasm as a core group takes shape to maintain the garden and organise regular workshops.

A recent compost making workshop was a great success. Doug Tobin came to share his composting knowledge and Pete Furze showed the group how to knock together a compost bin from recycled pallets. Layers of donated materials are now happily rotting away and will soon transform into valuable compost for the next round of planting!

Northland's 'Mudfish Man', Mike McGlynn, was in the Far North recently to carry out the second annual round of monitoring in the Waiparera wetlands. The Environment Centre is engaging with the Department of Conservation to help restore a section (pictured above) of this fascinating wetland habitat and will soon be calling on volunteers to make a start on weed control.

Mike's enthusiasm for these reclusive native fish is infectious and we all shared the excitement as each trap was lifted...

and the mudfish were counted...

and measured.

Dedicated work by Richard Robbins ensured the success of the popular Far North Exposure photographic competition which attracted much media coverage following the prize-giving on World Environment Day in June this year. The banners, featuring the winning pictures from each category, continue to be enjoyed at various events. Here, visitors to the Matariki Grand Exhibition check out the images.

You've got to wonder if people consider the beach and ocean to be just some kind of extended rubbish dump...A recent beach clean up at Tokerau - a joint venture between the Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Far North Environment Centre, Tokerau Beachcare group and active locals - netted several trailer loads of rubbish. A group of divers worked further up the coast, finding nearly 18 kilos of lead and a scary amount of nylon line.

Laura Shaft, NRC's Coastcare co-ordinator, gets stuck into the sorting and auditing of the rubbish, much of which was glass or plastic that could be recycled.

A hoard of helpful children lent a hand collecting rubbish, then got creative for the beach sculpture competition as the tide receded. Winners of the whanau category, the Jones sisters are busy here making their fabulous sea creature.

A new Environment Centre initiative, soon to have its official launch, is the H2O (Hills to Ocean) Catchment Care - Doubtless Bay project. With funding from the Ministry for the Environment's Sustainable Management Fund, this will be a 3 year project looking at issues that impact on the water quality of streams, rivers and, ultimately, the marine environment of Doubtless Bay. A programme of water quality testing will be instigated and a range of schools, residents, hapu and community groups will have the opportunity to engage in activities to improve water quality, enhancing the habitat of marine creatures and improving safety for people who use the sea for recreation and to gather kaimoana.

Richard is the key contact for this project and he can be contacted on 4081086 or .

This project will be a huge challenge but with increasing awareness of the degraded state of the marine environment there is a growing sense of urgency that we need concerted action to tackle these problems. The Environment Centre is only one of a number of agencies, plus many dedicated individuals who are commited to addressing the problems facing this special habitat and we look forward to joining forces!

The Food Co-op is up and running, with about a dozen households utilising its bulk-buying power to source organic food. It now needs more members who can volunteer time to help with administration, and more organic growers who would like to sell via the co-op. Contact Soozee about getting involved with the co-op.

That's it for now! We hope all our friends and supporters are enjoying the spring weather and will find some inspiration out there in the sunshine to keep on lending a hand to planet earth. We don't have any spares!




Mike Bryan
11 years, 6 months ago
I really enjoyed reading your newsletter. It is great to see all the activities happening around teh far North.
Keep up the good work.
8 years, 4 months ago
Nike move aimed at storming counting on the market to integrate resources,

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