May 13, 2019
Issue 05 2019

Aroha Nui, Papatūānuku!

It is so important to understand what we’re appreciative of every day. These days it’s too easy to miss the significance of what the tree outside contributes to your life. Look around! Everything you know is owed to our ability to compile and utilise thousands of years of human knowledge. It’s too insane not to appreciate.

Granted, we might appreciate the earth for what it is, even as we made huge feats towards today’s consumerist culture. But our efforts in protecting the eco-environment have been shoved aside.

It’s no secret how much of New Zealand’s beauty lies in its environment. The contrast between coastline and mountain range is rather astounding. And the best part is how no one lives very far from either. Wellington in particular bears many of New Zealand’s environmental treasures.

Zealandia, for example, is unique to anywhere else in the world. It consists of a whopping 225 hectares of native wildlife and is history’s first ever fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. The most moving thing about Zealandia is how it serves specifically to restore Wellington valley’s ecosystem as closely as possible to its pre-human state! It is one of the few places where you can encounter our most rare and extraordinary wildlife thrive in a world-first protected sanctuary. How awesome would it be if the whole world was like this?

If water feature wonders are more your scene, try the rugged south coast of Wellington where you can find the natural marvel of Pariwhero (Red Rocks). These striking red-coloured rocks were formed 200 years ago and have a fascinating Māori history. According to Māori legend, while Kupe (the famous Polynesian voyager) gathered paua, a shellfish clamped his hand. His blood is what stained the rocks their remarkable red shade. Another legend recounts Kupe's daughters fearing for their father's safety while on a long voyage from home. In their grief, they slashed themselves and the rocks ran red with their blood.

Conversing with fellow Wellingtonians about New Zealand’s exquisite uniqueness emphasised how we each have strong personal associations with different parts of the environment. Nigel reckons the waterfront area around the harbour is an essential part of what Wellington is all about, while Cole says he appreciates ‘the swamp underneath the downtown area, and the way the city's buildings float lightly atop it’.

“[I’m] appreciative of the tranquillity that's experienced through lone bushwalks; when you're just going through by yourself and you’ve time to spend on your thoughts. It’s really good for mindfulness and mental clarity,” said Nilesh.

“One thing that's irritating is litter in landscapes, sometimes there are beer bottles, cans and snack packaging in the bush. Even along Waitangi Park, Oriental Parade and Scorching Bay.”

Whether it be thinking back to the whales we saw in the harbour or the many school field trips we made through the bush, every dear memory we have here holds Wellington’s natural environment close to our hearts. But how do we preserve it in today’s consumerism culture? Here are a few easy beginner tips on how to do so as a student in Wellington.

Pick up your rubbish

Do it every time. That’s a no-brainer. Yeeting stuff out your car window isn’t a fix. Try not to leave glass bottles on the sidewalk; standing it by a pole doesn’t actually do anything.

Walk/bike/bus/train

In addition to helping you live healthier and happier, cutting down on driving helps the environment and saves you a lot of petrol money; not to mention not having to deal with Wellington traffic!

Recycle

They should really make a recycling version of the drunk driving ad.

“Chuck ‘em in the recycling?... Legend.”

When you’re able, recycle. Be the best at reducing how much trash goes into our beautiful, forest-feeding earth. Just remember to rinse your cans and bottles!

Save energy

When you’re not using them, turn off your energy efficient lightbulbs and other electronics. If you forget, a multi-plug can help you out. Not only will you be saving energy, you’ll be saving money on next month’s electrical bill!

No more single-use items

Take reusable bags to the store and reuse water bottles. Buy less and start thrifting, borrowing or renting clothes, movies and books! Don’t purchase aerosol sprays and opt out of junk mail. And when you’re buying, try looking for eco-friendly and cruelty-free products and packaging.

We know our home is remarkable. But it’s beauty won’t last forever unless we truly mean business. In making a few lifestyle changes, you’re doing your bit to preserve the few precious places we have. So, nga mihi and kia kaha!