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Sharing kaupapa to protect Papatuanuku

Taranaki Parakore Co-ordinator Emily Bailey dreams of doing herself out of a job.

Her role is to work with Maori organisations to share kaupapa about caring for the environment through recycling, re-using and choosing or making products that are kinder to people and the land.

“We are doing this to raise the awareness of rubbish, especially plastic in our environment, and how it ends up in whenua.”

In Taranaki, Emily works with about 47 different groups, including 21 marae, 17 Maori organisations and 9 events to help protect Papatuanuku. She holds workshops, gives presentations and provides advice and inspiration about reducing waste, plus growing, harvesting and preserving food. She also delivers workshops to groups that are not signed up.

With some funding from the TSB Community Trust, Taranaki Parakore has been running for seven years.

One of the events it supports is the Taranaki Toa Mounga Tri Series. At Waitara in late March, the last of the three triathlons had a great waste outcome.

“They had six Tetra Pak cartons of waste left for 200 people – they are really reducing,” Emily says.

“In te reo Maori, we don’t have a word for rubbish,” she says, during a presentation at Owae Marae in Waitara.

“Minimising waste begins with shopping.”

She shares te reo Maori words for different types of packaging used for food and products.

“Remember the whakapapa of the trees. Take down the trees, we take away the soil and harm the animals,” she says holding cardboard and paper.

Emily also talks about glass, tin, aluminium and plastic, explaining where they come from and how fossil fuels and electricity are used for both the production and recycling processes.

Offering alternatives, she holds up cloth bags made from old t-shirts, shares how to make toothpaste using baking soda, salt, peppermint and coconut oils, which is then kept in a glass jar, and deodorant made using equal parts of arrowroot, coconut oil and baking soda.

Dishwasher capsules can be made using baking soda and vinegar.

She holds up a period cup: “Every woman should have one of these – they last for 10 years.”

Emily also urges people to choose washable nappies and reusable cloths.

“Disposable nappies make up about 10 per cent of New Zealand’s residential waste. It’s only in the last two generations we have used these. You can save 2,000 nappies per child – that’s $4,000 per child you save,” she says.

“Our dream is to not have a job anymore; that we don’t create waste anymore and that Taranaki is a self-sufficient region again and we are growing and producing our own resources.”