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Students Receive International Recognition in Competition

Keep New Zealand Beautiful are excited to announce that five New Zealand students have won top awards at the 2021 Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) International competition.

These five students were all winners from the national New Zealand Young Reporters for the Environment 2020 competition and were put forward to compete internationally against students from across the globe. All five of the students received their awards in the Litter Less Campaign category, which is for entries related to the topic of litter and waste.

Queen Margaret College student Senali Vasanthathilake won first place in the Article: 11-14 years category for her piece ‘Cat food packaging: exposed’ and Emilia Parker from Lynfield College won second place in the Article: 15-18 years category for her article titled ‘Chews a Better Future’. In the Single Photo Reportage: 11-25 years category St Cuthbert’s College student Shanaiya Singh-Ali won first place for her photo titled ‘Trapped’. An Honourable Mention was given to Alfonso Ortiz and Archie Lamont-Bowden from St Peter’s College in the Photography Reportage: 11-25 years category for their entry titled ‘Glad Wrap is Bad Wrap’.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is the national operator for this internationally accredited competition which is run under the Foundation for Environmental Education banner (FEE).

YRE is a youth-led environmental programme and over 454,000 students from 44 countries participated this year, producing over 19,000 pieces of environmental journalism for national YRE competitions. The YRE Litter Less Campaign category of the competition is sponsored internationally by the Mars Wrigley Foundation and encourages students to focus on environmental issues relating to litter. YRE gives young people the opportunity to be part of the solution by producing creative and engaging environmental journalism.

To enter, students were asked to investigate an issue relating to litter, research a solution and then report on it using film, photography or writing. They were then required to disseminate their piece via available channels and their entry was judged by an international jury.

YRE International Jury Member and Executive Director of Mars Wrigley Foundation Anne Vela-Wagner says: "This year’s YRE entries continue to demonstrate the challenges and hopeful solutions youth from around the world are addressing in their communities. The pandemic’s impact was apparent, and the urgency needed to address the climate crisis was resonant, as captured in the photo of the year. It is never an easy task to select winners from the thoughtful entries received. All of the YRE students deserve to be recognised for their passion and dedication and encouraged to continue to raise awareness and take action."

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says: “The YRE programme continues to empower students to take an active role in looking after our environment and developing their journalism and critical thinking skills. It's been fantastic to see these young students gain international recognition for their work and speaks wonders of the calibre of our New Zealand youth on the world stage.”

For more information about the New Zealand YRE competition and to view the winning entries for 2021 please visit

The full YRE International press release can be read here.

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