I moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in late 2012 and, not knowing many people (anyone, except my partner’s family who I had met once, to be precise), I greatly valued opportunities to meet new people, build new relationships, and extend my social network.
When my daughter was ready to go to preschool, mid-2013, we enrolled her in a Kōhanga Reo (total immersion Māori pre-school) on the local Marae (Māori community space used for spiritual and social occasions). Both the Kōhanga Reo and Marae welcomed us, even though we have no Māori ancestry.
We were offered opportunities to learn how to speak Te Reo Māori (Māori language), to learn about te ao Māori (the Māori world and worldview), tikanga (customs and values), stories, songs, and more. My daughter loved it, as did I, and the Marae became an important influence as I found my place in this country and the city we live in, Kirikiriroa Hamilton.
As part of my whānau awhi (‘family help’ – all parents give some time to the running of the centre) at the Kōhanga Reo, I helped introduce and run a Para Kore (zero waste) initiative, where we composted food scraps and recycled waste whenever possible.
My daughter left Kōhanga Reo last year, and for some time I lost connection with the whānau there. But then recently I took up contact with them and the Marae, and I am so happy did. I did it because Kirikiriroa Marae has offered so much to me, my family, and the community.
Kirikiriroa Marae is a Matawaka Marae, which means they welcome people from all iwi (tribe) and hapū (sub-tribe), all parts of Aotearoa, and all places in the world. And it offers so much to the community, including the Kōhanga Reo, emergency housing, healthcare services, support for people with intellectual disabilities, rehabilitation opportunities for people with criminal records and/or addictions, space for spiritual and social events, and more.
To offer something back to this Marae that gives so much, I offered my time and experience in waste minimisation to help with the Marae’s vision of becoming zero waste. (And it just so happened to be perfectly timed, as the person that used to manage the waste and recycling system had recently moved away.)
Kirikiriroa Marae is a ‘Para Kore’ Marae. Para Kore is a programme run by amazing people that help Marae and other organisations across the country reduce their waste.
If you are a Marae, community organisation or business that is run by or working with Māori kaupapa or people, please check out their website.
If this doesn’t apply to you, but you are in Aotearoa and are interested in minimising your waste, you can still get in touch as they have a wealth of free resources and information available.
If you are not in New Zealand but are interested in how environmental and sustainability work can be linked with support for indigenous cultures/communities in your region, again, my suggestion is to contact them, as I really believe they have so much knowledge and experience to share with any people, groups or organisations within to lessen their impact on the planet.