Former Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark – and Waihi Beach local – will officially launch Sustainable Waihi Beach as its ambassador next month.
Sustainable Waihi Beach (SWB) founder Pippa Coombes said she was thrilled that Helen agreed to be the organisation’s ambassador.
“We applaud Helen’s commitment to and passion for sustainability, and to have someone of Helen’s caliber as our ambassador provides us with real gravitas,” Pippa says.
The SWB team of volunteers have been working to get the organization up and running and to complete its first project – seven water stations where people can refill their reusable water bottles, helping to create a plastic-free community.
One of those stations will also be accessible, designed for use by people in wheelchairs as well as those without mobility issues.
Helen said she was honored to be asked to be an ambassador for SWB.
“This is very much a community initiative, and we believe the water refill stations are just the start of a movement here to take exceptionally good care of our environment and the people who enjoy it, not just for this generation but for others to come, Helen says.
The water stations have been installed at the Trig, Brighton Reserve, Coronation Park and Albacore Ave with two further locations to be agreed upon. The accessible station will be installed at the North End near the Surf Club.
Five of the stations have been funded by the Waihi Beach Community Board and two by the Packaging Forum. There are more planned for other locations. Western Bay of Plenty District Council not only supported the initiative through the installation, plumbing and part funding of the accessible station, but also generously provided SWB with the seed funding that it needed to get started.
The stations will be operational by early September so you can fill your bottles while walking or biking.
Pippa says the group really started to gather momentum when it got lobbied for the Green Room pilot program to be run here recently. Coordinated by Tourism Bay of Plenty and Tourism Industry Aotearoa, the program brought 18 Waihi Beach and Katikati businesses together to review and improve their sustainability practices.
“There were some incredible initiatives put in place such as carbon reduction strategies, low-waste events and processes, and stronger promotion of ‘caring for our whenua’ over the busy summer. But most importantly it saw a collaboration and commitment from our business community to work together and share ideas to cement long-term sustainable goals,” Pippa says.
“Reon Tuanau from Otawhiwhi Marae referenced a whakatauki several times during Green Room discussions and they very much align with SWB values: manaaki whenua, manaaki tāngata, haere whakamua’. Care for the land, care for the people, go forward.”
As well at Helen Clark, SWB has some other high-profile locals supporting the initiative. Actress, yoga teacher, and celebrant Miriama Smith is one of them.
“I love that Sustainable Waihi Beach has embraced the concept of kaitiakitanga and is encouraging our community to as well. We have an obligation to take care of our environment and not just today, but for our rangatahi. They’re part of the solution too, which takes years and that’s why it’s so important that we start now,” Miriama said.
“The number of single-use plastic bottles that get thrown away each year in New Zealand is staggering – almost 830 million, which adds up to 165 Olympic swimming pools of plastic waste!”
Pippa says SWB would love to hear from anyone with ideas or time to commit to volunteering.
“This is very much a community initiative and the start of something major. We have an opportunity for Waihi Beach to lead the way when it comes to sustainability.”
A host of VIPs have been invited to attend the launch, which will be held near the Waihi Beach Surf Club on September 10.
The official opening and speeches will be followed by refreshments at the surf club.
To get in touch with SWB, email email@example.com, visit www.facebook.com/sustainablewaihibeachnz. SWB will launch their website before the official launch on September 10.
Clean the beach, name the mascot
Preceding the official launch will be a beach clean-up from 11.30am-1.30pm with volunteers rewarded with a sausage sizzle and woodfired pizza.
A competition is also underway for children to color in SWB’s mascot – a cute little blue penguin who happens to need a name.
“We’d love kids to color in our penguin and suggest a name for him on their entry,” Pippa says.
Entries can be downloaded at Sustainable Waihi Beach’s Facebook page facebook.com/sustainablewaihibeachnz
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