Moturoa School Students Advocate for Zero Waste Practices at Local Community Events

| By Lauree Jones and Robyn Irving

Tāwhirimātea - sweeping change across the land


Being an empowered student doesn’t just stop when you leave the school grounds, so when students of Moturoa School noticed a large amount of rubbish left behind after a running event they were quite surprised, angry and shocked this could happen, especially when the event was focusing on health and wellbeing.

“I was mind-blown what people can actually do to this Earth”, commented one student.

This observation started a trail of communication to ask questions with the hope to eventually change the future approaches.

Students wrote letters to the organisations responsible for the event.

Maia and Kaya rang the council expressing their frustration.

Niesha and Estella wrote a letter to New Plymouth District Council and visited the Mayor.

Hudson approached the Resene sponsors at the Home show.

These students wanted people to understand what had happened and how they felt.

“This is bad for the environment”, Hudson told them.

Eion contacted Sports Taranaki. Terry Long of Sport Taranaki not only replied but took time to visit the students to apologise and, together, work out ways that they could manage the waste at all their events.

Terry promised to immediately work towards a Zero Waste event the following year.

This is an excellent example of sustainable communities with the school and Sport Taranaki committing to continuing to work together.

Meanwhile the students continued to learn about the role of plastic in the community (lobbying Countdown to change the produce bags showing examples of their hand made alternatives and carried out experiments on biodegradable plastics).

Out of this on-going enquiry came the development of Moturoa Beach Guardians.

“I think we can actually make a difference” – Maia.

With new awareness and changes to waste management on the day, in this second year some significant shifts were made.

The organisers and the students checked waste after the event. Students then emailed Terry, telling him what they found.

In the words of the students (and backed up by Sports Taranaki), “We are very impressed that you have halved the colour run rubbish and our goal is to see no rubbish on our beaches, not a single piece!!”  -Stefan, Kaya, Niesha, Estella, Miri-Te-Apo, Liam and Rachel and all of the children of Koromiko Pinatoro Class.

“This is our goal as well, thanks to the kids at Moturoa” – Terry Long, Sports Taranaki.

Terry didn’t meet the Zero Waste goal in this first year of change so will review approaches and follow up on his promise to bring morning tea to the class and teach some PE lessons.

2020 will be an even bigger improvement, with a collaborative approach to caring for a special place.


(Colour Run photos reproduced from Sport Taranaki website).