Zero waste awards

More than 100 zero waste heroes celebrated at awards

From food to fabric, construction waste to the circular economy, the amazing stories of those working to reduce waste to landfill across Tāmaki Makaurau have been recognised at the 2021 Zero Waste Awards.

Published: Friday 30 July 2021

114 individuals, groups, schools, marae, local businesses and social enterprises were nominated for this year’s awards, which recognise those doing great things to help Auckland achieve its vision of zero waste by 2040.

 “It’s a massive privilege to be part of this event and celebrate the people and organisations who are finding creative ways to reduce waste in their local communities. Tāmaki Makaurau is better off for all their efforts and advocacy, we can only face this challenge together ” says Councillor Richard Hills, chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee.

Judges Charmaine Bailie (Uru Whakaaro, Para Kore ki Tāmaki), Damon Birchfield (EcoMatters), Kristy Lorson (EarthSavvy) and Parul Sood (Auckland Council Waste Solutions General Manager) selected winners as well as highly commending several other entries in each of the five categories.

Rangatahi Leadership - Rangatahi, rangawhenua, rangatangata

This award celebrates individuals or groups of rangatahi (young people under 18 years) who are showing commitment and leadership in reducing waste in their community.

Winner: Faiesea Ah Chee was President of the Kelston Girls High School Environmental Committee during 2020, leading waste minimisation activities including a waste audit which provided compelling evidence to the school’s Board of Trustees to set up recycling stations. She is vocal in her support for climate action and regularly returns to her old high school to support this year’s committee members.

Highly Commended: Children’s Ark Early Childhood Education in Torbay is helping its children learn about being kaitiaki and is striving towards embedding zero waste practices throughout all they do with outstanding leadership from manager Sue Trace and her team. They are supported in this through Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste’s Early Childhood Education Zero Waste programme, funded by the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board.

Growing the Movement - Whakakanohi i te kaupapa para kore

This award celebrates local heroes (individuals or groups) raising awareness, inspiring change and spreading their tautoko of the zero waste kaupapa.

Winner: Joseph Youssef is the founder, Chief Encourager and trustee of All Heart NZ Charitable Trust. All Heart NZ partners with corporates to practically redirect and repurpose redundant and unwanted items. In helping build up All Heart NZ, Joe has become an advocate for zero waste, encouraging businesses to set up more sustainable procurement processes. In the last four years, All Heart NZ has supported their corporate partners to divert more than 3,000 tonnes of ‘stuff’ - that’s about the same weight as 30 blue whales! It’s also created employment for 20 people and more than 50 volunteers.

Highly Commended: uses her social media channels and public workshops, under the banner of The Great Eco Journey, to share her own family’s efforts to become more sustainable. She has more than 5,500 followers on Instagram and 1,800 followers on Facebook.

Highly Commended: Shay Lawrence founded CaliWoods, a social enterprise selling eco products to replace single-use counterparts and inspiring environmental behaviour change. In 2020, they sold 48,707 reusable items, which they estimate diverted at least one million plastic or single use items from use.

Highly Commended: Ger Tew founded The ReCreators, a social enterprise promoting a circular economy by helping others to use redundant materials to make new items. In just over two years, they’ve run hundreds of workshops equipping people with the skills to move towards a circular economy.

Community Collaboration - Hā ora, Hāpori

This award recognises businesses or social enterprises who are ‘walking the talk’ by demonstrating a commitment in building community partnerships to reduce waste.

Winner: Perfectly Imperfect Charitable Trust was launched in March 2020 by Wendy Zhou, with the belief that ‘ugly is the new tasty’. It tackles the issue of pre-harvest food loss by gleaning produce that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to those in need. So far, their Imperfect Rescue Programme has more than 190 members who together have rescued more than 79,000kg of imperfect fruit and veggies that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Highly Commended: Naylor Love is a commercial construction company that is setting up innovative community partnerships and initiatives, driven by Annie Day, to tackle construction waste. In the last year, they’ve mobilised their team of 146 people to achieve their target of repurposing or recycling 80 percent of the waste their projects generate.

Highly Commended: Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae puts waste minimisation into action through repurposing and education, in turn inspiring other community groups and marae to minimise waste. In the past 12 months, they’ve educated 2,300 community members about waste minimisation.

Highly Commended: Sustainable Salons was launched in New Zealand in 2018 to help the salon and beauty industry to be more waste-conscious and sustainable. More than 100 salons from Auckland, Waikato Bay of Plenty and Whangarei are already signed up and collectively they’ve helped keep 50,000 kg of waste out of landfill so far.

Cultural Connection - Whīria te ahurea, whīria te kaitīakitanga.

This award recognises those individuals or groups using culturally appropriate approaches to educate, inspire and care for their communities to reduce waste.

Winner: Victoria Azaro founded the Travelling Sewing Box Project to foster belonging and help migrants sustain their traditions, and use fabric that would otherwise go to waste. A recent project saw a group of refugee women from Iraq create a series of upcycled fabric books, into which they stitched their migration stories. Repurposing fabric helps ensure every piece of fabric is treated with respect and love, and saved from landfill. By working with women from ethnically diverse backgrounds, Victoria helps create a space for everyone to share and socialise, and encourage a sense of belonging and settlement in New Zealand.  

Highly Commended: Tara Moala, Service and System Designer at Tāmaki Regeneration helped develop New Zealand’s first house deconstruction and renovation centre, offering young local people a stepping stone into the construction industry. This initiative also keeps 25 tonnes of demolition waste out of landfill for every house saved.

Highly Commended: Susan Li Kwan founded the Epsom Chinese Association and is instrumental in encouraging members to participate in a huge range of environmental activities, from repair cafes, tree planting days, beach clean ups and more. The association has held 24 sewing repair cafes in two years, with 20 members actively helping to ensure people’s clothes can be repaired, rather than thrown away.

Highly Commended: Estella Lee founded the Chinese Conservation Education Trust and is a community legend, working to connect the Chinese community with conservation efforts in New Zealand. She was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for her work to connect communities and cultures in the conservation space.

Innovation - Anga whakamua, supported by Sustainable Salons

This award recognises initiatives demonstrating the circular economy in action, and ‘making it happen’ through demonstrable results.

Joint Winners: The Link Alliance is the lead contractor delivering the City Rail Link and TROW Group, a business specialising in deconstruction and soft strip of buildings. By working together, more than 58 tonnes of usable materials were salvaged from buildings needing to be demolished or relocated for the City Rail Link construction project. These materials were then shipped to Tonga and used to rebuild community buildings following Cyclone Gita. Another 18,000 tonnes of materials were recovered and recycled, with just 410 tonnes of waste going to landfill, which equates to a phenomenal 98 percent diversion rate! and

Highly Commended: Maara Fresh is a school-based social enterprise that produces kai locally, supplies without packaging waste and gets future generations involved in growing healthy food. It was started during 2020, to grow and distribute food to Manurewa High School for its lunch programme with any excess donated to the community. It now employs five farmers, all alumni of Manurewa High.

Highly Commended: The Kai Ika Project is a non-profit initiative that helps reduce fishing industry waste by recovering fish offcuts and sharing it with people who enjoy eating them. In the last year, more than 65,000kg of food has been kept out of landfill and gone to feed communities across Auckland instead.

Highly Commended: The Sustainable Food Co. is a plant-based zero waste event catering company providing contemporary, creative and sustainable food and drink to Auckland’s event scene. In one year, they’ve catered for 148 events, which in turn has helped keep 19,421 pieces of packaging waste out of landfill.

Ko te rongoā kei roto i ō tātua ring (Already in our hands are the remedies, a quote from John Te Rangi-Āniwaniwa Rangihau)

A special posthumous award given to commemorate Richelle Kahui-McConnell’s contribution to Auckland’s zero waste community.

Richelle was instrumental in helping Auckland Council to engage with Mana Whenua and matāwaka to ensure their priorities and Te Ao Māori were woven through the 2018 Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

She also contributed to many different organisations to help reduce waste, and established Para Kore ki Tāmaki as a leader in working collaboratively with marae and whānau, delivering workshops and providing resources to help Māori communities minimise waste.

Nominees (winners and highly commended not included here)

Rangatahi Leadership - Rangatahi, rangawhenua, rangatangata

Si Le Joy School

Parnell District School Sustainability Squad

Mission Heights Primary Enviro Team

Wakaaranga School

Tara Pene - The Hustle Project

Growing the Movement - Whakakanohi i te kaupapa para kore

Nga Taonga Aroha Early Childhood Centre

Felila Taufa - TROW Group

Friends of the Farm, Mangere Bridge

Sarah O'Donnell - Orewa College

Helen Parkes - Waste Free Leigh

Bindi Chouhan

Judith Rosamund - Hobsonville Community Compost Hub

Victor Loong

Kel Hartell - Northcross Intermediate School

Danielle Hancock - New Zealand Biosecurity Services Ltd

Brigitte Sistig

Jacqui Lees - Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten

Beccy Long - Howick Primary School

Maya Carryer - Kauri Park School

Janelle Blackmore - Triangle Park Community Teaching Garden

Dorothy Fitzgerald - Ostend Market Zero Waste, Waiheke Island

Kayleigh Appleton - Waiheke Resources Trust

Koha Kahui-McConnell - Para Kore ki Tāmaki

Coralie Archer - Practically Green

Annie Day - Naylor Love

Madeleine Cull

Vaishali Jain

Sue Ollerton - Sustainable Papakura

Haley Lowe - O TE MOTU Creations

Lisa Te Paa

Louise Garbett - Auckland Family Freecycle

Ronja Schipper

Delayne Salthouse - Wakatere Boating Club

Anne Welsh - West Auckland Resource Centre

Kathryn Lawlor - MPHS Community Trust

Liza Zapata - Manaaki Tangata (ME Family Services)

Tokowha Tehuia - Love Soup Charitable Trust

Sharni Ware - Enjo North

Debbie McCreath - Sancta Maria College

Suzanne Kendrick - Grey Lynn 2030 Car Boot Market

Pragna Patel - Satya Sai International Organisation

Community Collaboration - Hā ora, Hāpori

Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste

MARC Early Learning Centre

The Food Hub Collective

Soil Factory

Waiheke Resources Trust

S Double S Services

Titirangi Market Zero Waste Group - Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School

Para Kore ki Tāmaki


Joint entry for the nine Auckland Community Recycling Centres: Waiuku Zero Waste, Helensville, Devonport, Mahurangi Wastebusters - Warkworth and Wellsford, Envirokiwi Community Enterprise Trust, Henderson Tipping Point, Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste, Island Waste Collective.

All Heart Stores

Love Soup Charitable Trust

Art of Living

Eco Wed

Accelerating Aotearoa


Manurewa Waste Champions

Cultural Connection - Whīria te ahurea, whīria te kaitīakitanga.

Gardens4Health - Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa

Bianca Ranson - Piritahi Marae

Papatoetoe Food Hub

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei - Pourewa Whenua Team

Hamilton Estate Community Hall - Tuwhera Trust and Marahou Trust

Art of Living NZ

Anil Singh - Ram Mandir

Sasi Syed Niyamathullah - Belong Aotearoa

Judi Sixsmith - Glenbrook School

Abeer Khankan - English Language Partners North Shore

Innovation - Anga whakamua, supported by Sustainable Salons

26 Aroha Apartments

Ecostock Supplies Ltd

The Therapy Box

Re Fab Cabins Limited

Phil and Jenny Grainger - Kahurangi Ridge Farm

Kennedy Brown

Outliv Studio

Dr Terri-Anne Berry

Nina Darrah - I Used To Be

Deep Creek Brews and Eats / Browns Bay Breweries

Tara Moala - Tāmaki Regeneration

Fair Food Charitable Trust

Soil Factory - Kelmarna Gardens

City to Farm

Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste

Mint Innovation

All Heart NZ


Salters Cartage Limited

Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae

Eco Wed

Lynn Dunbar - Farm Cove Intermediate

Everybody Eats