A Professor with a background in both IT and land management, Sam has developed applied IT for regional government, crown research institutes and large organisations. He has taught computing since 1994, at Otago Polytechnic Information Technology since 1997, including five years as Head of Department. Sam has published over 150 conference and journal papers in the fields of augmented experiences; sustainability; and computer education.
Sam is responsible for the development of Education for Sustainability at Otago Polytechnic where we are committed to
every graduate thinking and acting as a sustainable practitioner
We talk with Jon Ching, farm manager of Kauai Coffee Company, and Vance Pascua, owner of Ainofea Productions. We talk about how a seed to cup estate and the Ainofea (I no fear) philosophy both come from a positive place of celebration of the people and place of Kauai’i.
It’s about passion
This is what we are doing and this is what we believe in
I can’t save the world by myself, but I can change one life, and who knows what they might go on to do
If you take care of the land, it will take care of you
Do as much as you can, with the resources you have
These kids, their passion, they will be the future
Activist: Fighting kids off looking down on themselves
Graham Henton is an inspirational Enviro Science Teacher at Whakatane Intermediate School, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. We talk about his background, his approach to teaching and the restoration of the Awatapu lagoon and why he loves what he is doing.
What a difference a child can make
Every child – I believe in you
Understanding – what we do as human beings
Interdependence is everything
If you don’t like Enviro, come and talk to Mr H, what’s going worng, what am I doing wrong?
Too many takers and not enough givers
I’ve made up a word for people who are selfish: BigISpoilers – their mission in life is to spoil things for everything and everyone else. I encourage the kids to be enviro-kids, and they are going to assist the planet to be sustainable.
Empower their life of making a difference
Put your cards on the table, lets figure out what we can do
Why would you want to cultivate a culture of extravagance?
They’re doing it, that my legacy.
It buzzes me out, I met people all over NZ, big burly fellas at the petrol station, “Mr H you believed in me”. I empower kids to make a difference. I want to empower children to make a difference in their life first, and then make a difference in the environment. They’re doing, that is my greatest encouragement.
Sustainability: Helping earth, not fighting it. Allowing the earth to do what it wants to do without us ruining and spoiling. Instead of creating carnage wherever we go.
Success: meeting students years later. In high school, trying to continue what we have begun here. Young children, 10-11 years old, they’re getting it, they’re embarking on a life of sustainability.
Superpower: Empowering young people, to help them understand the importance of the environment. People don’t do things unless they understand it, my job as an educator is to help them understand why we do stuff.
Kids teaching me – I love it. Boom!
Because I love what I’m doing, and because I’m enthusiastic about it, the kids love it (mostly).
Activist? I don’t think so, I’m just a passionate person who believes that passion breeds passion. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. I’ve taken the time to develop a programme that works with kids, and I believe in it.
The world is filled with people who believe in things, and people who believe in things, make things happen. I what kids to know that, to believe that, that they can make things happen.
Toi Kai Rākau Iti is of Tūhoe, Waikato and Te Arawa decent. An actor and documentary maker, he is back home in Tūhoe working with his community, Hāpu and Iwi. We talk about food sovereignty – agroecological regenerative systems which intersect western horticultural science with traditional Tūhoe ecological knowledge and practice.
Transitioning to a place of wellbeing
Te Reo – the magic of nature, codified in language
We talk about the importance of mana motuhake, of sovereignty – the right to life as you see fit – yet we are dependent on industrialised food systems
I come from a tradition of exposing the theatre of power, recoginising the power of spectacle, now we are developing a theatre of community
Food sovereignty is climate change
Gardening as performance art – this is a show garden, a manifestation of energy.
We see intergenerational dysfunction, we say karakia to the land, but then sit down to industrialised sausages.
The layers of colonisation are subtle, deep and thick.
In growing stuff – not just food – you can see the energy
Dr Rob Whitbourne works in conservation in Whakatāne. We talk about how he came to be involved in conservation and how this is driven by Rongoā Māori medicine.
(note: We apologise for the sound quality of this conversation, the main recorder failed, so this is the back-up. All hail the back-up).
Always into nature
Lucky that our playgrounds and experience in life was always based around the bush. My father was always a bushman…when you grow up with people like that they impart on you a sense of understanding….You grow up knowing the names of the trees, where different birds nest, how trees change during the seasons
Sense of curiosity and understanding
(after teenage years in Australia) For a long time after I came back I had this sense of the New Zealand bush as this foreboding dark forest
I went to a rongoā wānanga, a workshop on traditional medicines…it opened my eyes, gave me a feeling of really knowing the bush
PhD focussing on traditional crops and how their significance is maintained today…The bigger question: how indigenous communities engage with research institutes?
The social side of knowledge, isn’t given the same focus – especially when it comes to Western Science and indigenous knowledge systems – the focus is often on factual knowledge and deeper assumptions, ontologies.. and the social stuff isn’t given that much attention..and that leads to a focus on difference…here’s the body of knowledge that one system has, and here’s the body of knowledge that this other system has, or a deeper level, we see the world this way and you see the world that way. That tends to draw out difference and it doesn’t give much room for common ground or interaction.
If we put more attention on the social side of things, on the practitioners, how can the people who do Mātauranga Māori, or people who practice indigenous knowledge in Peruvian communities, how can they best interact? How do the people interact? So the questions are of who has decision making control? How do you respectfully engage with and respond to each others knowledge traditions?
It’s too easy to say these indigenous ideas of nature having a spiritual element, well empiricism doesn’t deal with that so they’re incompatible. But if we say people who work and live in urban institutes and others who live in rural communities, they speak different languages, they have different values, they make decisions in different ways, how can those come together? That gives you more scope to work together.
We lose knowledge when our people are depleted. The two are the same.
We might be lucky to name 5 or 6 plants. We know the world we are familiar with, today we might know 300 logos, before it was 300 plants and animals.
How do we get people connected, to feel part of those places? We are those places
We need to find the spark that’s already there for people – in my case it was rongoā o wananga.
It’s a love of those places, and a love for each other in those places, we are those places.
Environmental management is really people management
A Māori perspective – we are all family (people and land), do you know your family, do you care for them? I’m surrounded by my family.
It reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Activist: Yes, I’ve always stood up to confront and fight for the positive. In a sense of accelerated disruption and destruction there’s a real need for urgency.
Superpower: A genuine commitment to the world around me and its people. I’m an idealist, positive. Maybe that comes from the sense of being I have.
Challenge: conservation on Māori land.
Advice: All of these things require the collective, none you can do on your own.
Fiona Clements of Senorita Awesumo and Sustainable Dunedin City describes the many challenges of the clothing industry – not least of these that it is a business model that relies on changing fashions. She describes social injustice, water use, manufacturers’ waste (call it what it is – wasted resource). But rather than complaining, she has taken a positive approach to activism – making a difference through her own business and leadership in not-for-profit community sewing room Stitch Kitchen.
Finn Boyle variously describes himself as a compost nerd”, a “food philosophy explorer” and a “yeast whisperer”.
Realising the question of “what am I eating?” took him down a rabbit hole, Finn saw that he needed to change the world and that his lever was food systems design. He embarked on a food design degree which eventually saw him a grand tour of compost. Amongst several other activities, he is now working to reduce Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste.
We talk about making disruption attractive.
Read more on Finn’s work on taking a thriving approach to Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste system (pdf)
Dr Paul LeBlanc is President of Southern New Hampshire University. He says his goal (and that of SNHU) is making the world a better and more just place – one learner at a time. And how they are doing it, at scale. We talk about the social justice underpinnings for College for America, and how a focus on every student can be achieved at scale. Future generations of learners will be masters of multiple worlds, have spectrum demographics, be distributed and have a different sense of value – seeing value in curated interconnected social selves.
Learning has to be authentic
How do we educate when people are working in a VUCA world? (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous)
Are we being as thoughtful about equity as we are about access?
Becoming you curated best self
Doing information in a more democratic way
End of Average
Its the end of the credit hour model that focusses on time spent in class, instead the competency model puts the focus on learning.
(On international university work in war-torn and refugee communities) How could we not be there? It’s our moral imperative.
Its not about being an individual hero, but the ability to make team successful
Build the narrative – the story is part of the solution…writing for change.
Alyth Grant retired from an academic job teaching German and has launched into a retirement role with the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. She tells us that the sanctuary is about protecting an ecosystem, it’s not a zoo.
It felt like this was my opportunity to give back to what I’d always loved doing
It felt to me like my opportunity to give back to the natural world of your life to the bush which I had laughed all those years. But it was also an opportunity to learn a lot
It’s very exciting this hands on stuff I just loved. And of course, the other huge benefit is you meet a whole new circle of friends who were doing the same thing and share the same passions.
(on the future of the sanctuary) That’s a very big question, one would hope that it will continue. And I think one … that one of the most important things to happen is recruiting new volunteers, younger volunteers because we all are 10 years older than we were when we started and that’s why the educational side of the programme is vitally important.
I think the sustainability aspect comes…in we have an excellent education program most people know Tahu Mackenzie by now and she has (worked with) preschoolers who are already learning how to plant how to read how to look after the new trees… they learn about all aspects of the wildlife it or economic and it goes right through to high school students to programs that are linked in with their NCEA curricula and lean on to university students – ecology students in particular who are doing their own projects for for masters degrees and PhD degrees. Now, all of those young people right through are getting what I lacked in my childhood, that involvement with the outdoors, the learning what it takes to look after this beautiful world we live in, and New Zealand.
I think it’s when you begin to understand that it’s a whole ecosystem that we’re trying to look after. And and that’s what our Ecosanctuary really is about isn’t just a zoo, we have to tell people all the time because you can promise that they’re going to see this (animal).
(Do you have a go to definition of sustainability?) I don’t, I mean, I need the the dictionary meaning of the word, what it means for us individually is very different. I think it’s what we can do ourselves to the overall thing, whether it be getting involved as I’ve done and some sort of specific project aimed at trying to restore our environment to something better than it has become.
I’ve been a teacher all so many years, that it’s going to depend a lot on education, from childhood onwards through to the adults who perhaps didn’t know about it earlier on, like me, so that it’s an ongoing thing that we take it for granted that we have to look after our environment.
And as part of the education I think we need to become more politically aware, I think we fail our own society and not doing enough at school level to become good citizens to understand what it is to be a voting person, member of a community and informing ourselves of what the issues are for our community and for the world.
(superpower) The willingness to talk about it? I think as much as anything, Well, I guess it’s the background and teaching and communicating as well as the willingness to be involved physically and things I was brought up to be reasonably practical person. So I enjoy that combination, I think.
(motivation) Life is still interesting…what keeps me interested in life. I’m still learning stuff.
(miracle) Get rid of plastic, I get angry every time I go to buy something and everything’s in plastic packaging. And while it’s lovely to think that we can do something ourselves about getting rid of plastic single use plastic bags, I think the bigger issue is a huge one. And it’s how do you persuade manufacturers to stop packaging like that, I mean, I can remember when you went to the hardware store, and they would weigh out some screws for you or count out some screws for you. But that doesn’t happen anymore because they want to hang everything on hooks.
(Advice) get out in the environment, do whatever you can, in whatever small way something that makes you feel good about yourself and about the world you live.
Bonnie Robinson is exploring the intersection of social justice and management. She is drawing on a career in social services and putting it into practice in her role as Chief Executive of HBH Senior Living, focussing on meeting the needs of vulnerable older people.
Scout Barbour Evans is many things – a student, an over committed volunteer, a transgender activist, a mayoral candidate to name a few. We talk about an open society, where we value openess and authenticity and the importance of being openly mentally unwell and queer.
Scout is committed to keeping learning and is a student in Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Leadership for Change.
Ashleigh Smith is Co-founder and Board Chairperson of Sticks n Stones, New Zealand’s largest youth led bullying prevention organisation. She is a Queen’s Young Leader and a student in both the Bachelor of Nursing and Bachelor of Leadership for Change.
If you are unhappy about something, do something about it!
I have such a passion for creating this change you know the things that are really important to you in your life you just have to make time for.
Last year I came to this awesome conclusion: the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life was standing actually just being kind to someone else
Sometimes we get so incredibly busy within our own lives that we miss all the opportunities to be kind to the people around us, and I actually think that realising and acting on that is the best way to change the world.
Sometimes in life you have to take a step back and look at the other persons perspective, and even though you think they may be wrong you have got ask yourself what value they can add to the situation, and just do you best to try and look through that.
If I could wave a magic wand I would make everyone more aware of how our choices as consumers can have an effect on the world.
Sometimes you have to realise that you are doing your best.
Other people motive me, just working with other people is a privilege and a pleasure. I’ve worked in lots of places, Spain, Italy, Greece, Ireland, England and now in New Zealand. So, I feel really privileged because its basically like a great long observational piece of work where you go around a meet lots of people and conclude that was are all basically the same.
People should start being kinder to people on every level.
Be aware that when you wake up in the morning that you need to make a genuinely kind act which is selfless.
We talk with Dina Buchbinder Auron and Edgardo Martinez of Education for Sharing.
Education for Sharing’s (E4S) mission is to form better citizens from childhood through innovative education programs based on the power of play and physical activity. Their vision is for EfS to become an integral part of school communities globally. We ask about how civic education can empower the next generation of community changemakers prepared to tackle the global challenges of their time.
The way that we preserve the most precious resources that allow us to live a happy, healthy and safe life.
The children are not only children, they are change-makers!
Creating a better world for everyone, making a difference everyday.
Dr Jean Ross is a Principal Lecturer at Otago Polytechnic. She specialises in rural nursing and we ask her about the role of place and community, and how the professional responsibility of nursing operates at different scales.
Commitment, drive and wanting to make a difference.
To do nothing is not the option, to do something and make a difference in others lives is what will lead to a sustainable future.
Consider carefully and compassionately what nurses offer to society.
Dr Ben Anderson is Principal Research Fellow in the Energy & Climate Change Division of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, UK . We ask what big data can tell us about habitual energy and water consumption.
Living beyond our means. We are currently living outside of our day-to-day means as a global population, because we are digging up the past and burning it. So I would define sustainability as living within our day-to-day energy means such that we can continue to continue living on the planet.
Ask yourself how can New Zealand be a shining light in terms of research, innovation and building capacity in a future way of living?
Try to burn less, try to consume less, have a think about what you are doing and when you are doing it.