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Green Ribbon/World Environment Day Event Speech

Marian Hobbs
14 June 2000 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: 5.30pm Wednesday June 14 2000
Green Ribbon/World Environment Day Event, Grand Hall, Parliament


One of my first duties, when I took office as the Minister for the Environment, was to read the briefing which the Ministry had prepared for me - and dismal reading it was too.
I read:
“There is a gap between the perceptions of a clean, healthy environment and the reality today. Some of our rivers and beaches are so polluted that they are a health risk for swimming. We have a growing mountain of waste which communities do not want dumped in their backyard. And we continue to lose our unique species and habitats.”
End of quote.
I realised there was a lot of work to be done.
Fortunately I found there are many people who are willing to work to move New Zealand’s environment closer to the perception and away from the reality.
Some of those people work for the government - central and local and a great many of them are ordinary New Zealand citizens - or perhaps I should say they are extra-ordinary New Zealand citizens.
These are the people the Green Ribbon Awards were created to honour. We are all here today to celebrate the achievements of some truly remarkable people and in that category I include those who have won awards, the 56 who were nominated, as well as the thousands of others who toil away to improve and enhance New Zealand’s environmental treasures.
We received a number of very good nominations in most categories which, while encouraging, made it difficult to select winners and I would like to encourage all those who were nominated but were unsuccessful to try again.
Many of the nominated projects are in the early stages of development and in choosing winners we favoured those that have been operational for a while and have produced some results.

Shortlisted in the rural category were Di and Graham McBride and Mike and Sandra Goodwin.

Mike and Sandra were nominated by Environment Waikato for their work with the Okoroire Stream Care Group. They were instrumental in setting up this group and are also involved in a number of ways with the Waikato Conservation Board, Matamata freshwater Anglers Club and are on the Farm Environment Award Judges panel.

Di and Graham were nominated by the Waikato Pesticides Awareness Committee because they apply a wide range of sustainable farming practices to their farm at te Kowhai. They follow a philosophy of leaving the land in better condition than they found it and understand the links between good business practices and good environmental practices. They have also developed a total integrated management ethic which considers all factors - animal and human welfare, food safety and quality and the protection of flora and fauna.

The winners of this section were chosen because they were running an established project which has shown good results and looks set to provide even better results in future. The holistic approach adopted and the fact that this couple are leading by example stood out from the other nominations in this category.

The Green Ribbon Award winners in the rural category are: Di and Graham McBride.
(Present Award)

The Business and Industry category proved a very difficult one to judge. New Zealand businesses have been given a bad name for their environmental awareness by a number of reports recently - but we found a long list of companies which are operating not only in environmentally sustainable ways, but some who are working pro-actively to improve the environment while still managing to turn a profit.
On the short list were: Phoenix Organics Ltd, Rocktec, and the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association.

Phoenix Organics is a small business which was nominated by the Auckland Environmental Business Network for their efforts which include logging their vehicle mileage and donating trees to make up for their vehicle emissions. They have a number of other initiatives which are not aimed solely at reducing their costs or complying with regulations and are a good example of a small business aiming for sustainable production.

Rocktec were nominated by the Waikato Environmental Business Network for their invention, the vertical composting unit. This great example of an innovation which benefits both the environment and business provides a means to compost organic material cheaply and without odour and allows the valuable resulting resource to be used easily.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association were nominated by the New Zealand Vegetable and Potato Growers Federation for their Franklin Sustainability Project which is an innovative community-based project which has already positively changed grower attitudes and behaviour in Pukekohe. The project is unique in that it has been established and is operated by a diverse group of landowners and land users. It involves a number of practical trials of sustainable farming practices which have resulted in reduced soil erosion and pesticide use. It brought together farmers, agribusiness, local councils and researchers to work together to improve the environment.

The winners in this category were chosen because their project promoted integrated pest management and are serving as an example to a number of others as a model of a business which is committed to improving their environmental management and educating others about good environmental processes.

The Green Ribbon Award winners in the Business and Industry category are: The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association.
(Present Award)

Community and Local Government are central players in caring for New Zealand’s environment. As I have already said making a difference depends on the community caring and taking action, and it is local government which encourages that action and monitors the results.
This was the largest of all the categories this year - with a total of 24 nominations.

Those who made it to the short list are: The Amberley residents Association and the Manawa Wetlands and Green Network.

The Amberley residents association was nominated by the Hurunui District Council for its waste reduction and recycling work.
This work has survived highly variable prices for glass, paper etc and shares its learning with groups throughout New Zealand and overseas and has served as a model for other communities in New Zealand.

The Manawa Wetlands and Green Network are part of the wider Green Network initiative in Waitakere City and were nominated by the Mayor Bob Harvey.
The current wetland site was once a quarry which has been rehabilitated by the hard work and dedication of those involved. During the project they had to deal with flooding problems, sewer and stormwater overflows and poor stream flows to create a recreational amenity which is regarded with pride by the local residents.

The winner in this category, which was especially difficult to judge, was chosen as they are an excellent example of a voluntary organisation which has grown out of a community initiative and works only because the community is behind it.

The Green Ribbon Award winner in the Community and Local Government category is the Amberley Residents Association.
(Present Award)

As Tangata Whenua, Maori have a very special relationship with the environment and there are many very dedicated Maori people working to improve and enhance New Zealand’s natural heritage. However, it not always simple to do that and often they become discouraged by the need to deal with what appear to be large and inflexible bureaucracies as they work.
The short-listed nominees in the Maori category are both working hard to “close the gap” if I can borrow that term and help Maori have a higher impact.
On the short list were Liz Burge and Susan Forbes, both nominated by Jane Bradbury of the Wellington Regional Council.

Liz Burge is the resource management spokesperson for the Rangitaane o Wairarapa and works to coordinate and commenting on all matters relating to resource management on behalf of the Rangitaane o Wairarapa.
She has taken a strong advocacy role and constantly maintains the importance of iwi and hapu and is able to provide analysis and argument to support this position.

Susan is the environmental manager for Kapakapanui - the environmental arm of te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai in Waikanae. She works with council staff to ensure the role of iwi in resource management matters is implemented.
She is also involved in a number of projects to encourage young people of the iwi to be involved in the work of Kapakapanui.

The winner in this section was chosen for the strength of her advocacy for the importance of communication between iwi and councils. She is a Maori woman working for Maori people and has shown a great deal of commitment to working for the environment over the past 10 years.

The Green Ribbon Award winner in the Maori category is Liz Burge.
(Present Award)

As a teacher and principal I know that education is the corner stone of change in society. And education need not be restricted to the young - educating adults to be aware of their impact on the environment is also important.
I was therefore especially interested and pleased with the work of the short-listed nominees in the education category who were: The Environmental Planning Division of the Auckland City Council, Guides New Zealand and Mr Gavin Scott.

The Environmental Planning Division of Auckland City Council were nominated by Auckland City Councillor Vern Walsh for their work with the community of Avondale running sessions with Avondale students, involving them in the planning process and helping them understand how environmental management works. To do this the division has created a number of useful resources aimed at a younger audience and they are continuing to look for innovative ways to involve young people in the environmental management process.

The Guides New Zealand is running the “Save It” campaign which focuses the girls on finding a specific plant or animal which needs saving.
Save It is part of an on-going environmental education programme, which began in 1998 with Dig It - which focused on learning to grow plants (especially natives) and caring for them and continued with Recycle It last year. This year’s programme will be followed in 2001 with Adopt It and in 2002 with Protect It.
The whole programme provides both an education and a chance for the guides to do something positive for the environment.

Gavin Scott, who was nominated by Mr Chris Morgan, works as a supervisor at the lowland reserves in Fielding known as Kitchener Park. His working life involves him in providing advice to farmers on restoring and protecting native bush on their land, but he also works as an educator in the local schools, talking to pupils about conservation and native plants. He has also been involved in a project to restore and preserve a patch of native bush in Kitchener park which involved the local community by using the labour of unemployed people in the area.

The winner in this category was chosen because their project largely involves voluntary labour, is educative and long term and has the potential to have a huge impact throughout New Zealand.
The Green Ribbon Award winners in the Education Category are: Guides New Zealand.
(Present Award)

I would now like to hand over to my Associate Minister to say a few words.

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