Categories
community local government permaculture politics

being better at imagining better

Nándor Tánczos describes himself as a Dad, social ecologist, educator, permaculturalist and a Whakatāne District Councillor. Others describe him as New Zealand’s first Rastafarian MP and one our our first Green MPs. We talk about what drives him, how he became socially active (radicalised in Darlington!), his new project – social permaculture, and our bigger goal – to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture.

Talking points

We need to be better at imagining and rehearsing paradise

That awoke me to the potential – a transformation of consciousness.

The soft infrastructure is just as important for well-being

Social permaculture – how do we apply ideas of permaculture to regenerating society?

We need to avoid ecology becoming a reductionist science.

I’ve been inspired by Goldsmith‘s concept of homeotelic – to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. The default behaviour of any healthy part of the system serves to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. Human culture was – Goldsmith calls it the vernacular culture – and can be homeotelic – but in our industrialised culture the default behaviour of human individuals serves to undermine and degrade the integrity of the ecological whole. Our industrial society is hetereotelic. It was a real moment for me, realising that the task is to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture. So it’s about mindset.

This whole reality is our collective creation – we can change it.

There’s a profound shift taking place.

Superpower: ability to work with different people

Challenge: Writing. We need people to be painting how things could be different.

Categories
community food permaculture

building earth

Louise Shaw describes herself as an earthbuilder, a teacher, a gardener, a mother (and new grandmother). She and her family live near Whakatane where we talk about building soil and regenerating ecological systems.

We need to change our view of capital, a bigger picture, a longer picture – soil is our capital, we need to build and improve that.

I can’t be self sufficient unless I’m living in a sufficient world

Ordinary but extraordinary

The more you start making (our impacts) visible, the more ugly it becomes. We’ve become good at hiding that, but we need to fix the ugliness.

People talk about better life not a lesser life, and it’s true, we’re so rich it’s awesome.

We can’t just be self-sufficient, we have to be community sufficient.

Positive, but shit-scared.

There’s so much learning in every single day. These things add up to big things.

Superpower: Doing it. Sniffing out other people doing it. A virtuous circle and community.

Categories
conservation biology engineering environmental entrepreneur

inadvertent ecological engineer

Kelly Hughes places a flexible baffle inside a concrete culvert.  He's wearing gumboots in about 12cm of flowing water.

Kelly Hughes of ATS-Environmental describes himself as a inadvertent ecological engineer. With baffles, ramps, ropes and fish-friendly flood gates, Kelly is reconnecting waterways around the world.

Talking points

Solving problems with technology

The ecological world came to me with a problem – all I could hear was excuses.

Creating environments where fish can move at their leisure, with choices

Overcoming ignorance and bureaucracy that believes things are not doable, even when you have done them.

People aren’t very good at joining the dots, and that’s what we need, joined up waterways.

Plastic bottles really are the icon of unsustainability

All my learning has been done wearing gumboots

Kids should go to school with their gumboots on.

Sustainable: being conscious of impacts – being mindful of the things that you touch – both self and societal

Superpower: Tempering one’s desires to match

Activist: Yes, Don’t walk on eggshells

Motivation: We need to make the most of being awake

Miracle: Every school had an enviroclass teacher like Graham Henton

Advice: Be honest about who you think you are trying to impress.

Categories
community conservation biology environmental entrepreneur local government

Getting things done


It seems everyone in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has a good word about Bill Clark and his many hats. He is a conservationist, entrepreneur, author, the energy behind the Onepu Community Recreation Park and the restoration of the Tumurau Lagoon, and is a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor.

Talking points

If you want more whitebait, you have to make whitebait habitat

It gives me a feel good. There’s so many naysayers out there that say if you build it they’ll break it, I accept there will be a little bit of collateral damage… but that’s only one person, there’s 99 enjoying it and looking after it.

Kia ora Bill, how’s our wetland doing bro? – that gives me a great deal of satisfaction

Service clubs: Saw the need for what they could achieve, and got out and did it.

An environmental activist, I don’t go out on the streets, I get out and do stuff.

Our governance and management systems…are working with value systems of yesterday, when resources seemed infinite.

We have yet to realise that our resources are not infinite and we can not carry on the way we are doing things and sustain ourselves on this planet – it’s as simple as that.

Thinking forward

I like my life. Is see what I do in the environment is a form of creativity.

Advice: Enjoy Aotearoa and look.

Categories
waste

Waste not

Lisa Eve

Lisa Eve is a waste management consultant at Eunomia Research and Consulting. We talk about her background – how she became a specialist in waste, and why it is so important.

Helping people to make a real difference in their lives.

The oil industry successfully found a way to get rid of waste portions of the oil streams…wildly successful so that now we’re totally unable to live without plastic

It’s too late to fix packaging at the consumer end, we need to fix at the source…extended producer responsibility

We’re not good at seeing waste as our problem – it’s someone else’s crisis, “they” should fix it.

#IsThisYours?

If it is not sustainable from a community angle – social justice etc – then environmental sustainability is meaningless

In New Zealand pretty much everything goes to landfill, and biodegradable is really bad in landfill – we have to work on that.

Super-power: feminist warrior

Activist: Yes, Trying to change people’s ideas and perceptions – but to do that you have to be prepared to change your own.

Start conversations

Try and educate yourself – not by reading facebook.

Be positive – surround yourself with people.

Categories
children education

Every student can make a difference

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.

Talking points

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.

Categories
food maori

Food sovereignty

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.

Talking points

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

Questions to end (short answers)

Definition: It goes on

Success: Moving home

Superhero: Bringing value

Activist: Yes. Do stuff. Subversive

Motivation: Doing stuff for people

Challenge: Creating space for healing

Miracle: An awakening.

Categories
conservation biology maori

Learning from rongoā Māori

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).

Talking points

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.