‘Humanity has developed a very deep ability to push devastating information about the impacts of our actions into our subconscious and this is a danger. We are numbing ourselves to this life going out’.                                                                         Patricia McCabe

Here’s what my heart and soul wants to say to you, Dear Reader. That Rumi’s words from the 13th century (see pic) speak just as true today; its high time to meet beyond ideas of ‘wrongdoing and rightdoing’ here in the Far North! Can we please put aside blame and judgement in regard to Waste,  celebrate that there is much more that unites us than divides us, look for the good in each other, and get on and work together to move forward?

The issue of Waste and its effect on the environment here in the Far North is a prime example of what sociologists and others term a ‘wicked problem’ or a ‘mess.  Its a problem with no single cause and there is no one solution, and actually there is  little likelyhood of the problem ever being completely resolved, so can everyone please stop taking sides, and saying one idea is good, another is not. Nor are some organisations or individuals wholly good or wholly bad. Nothing is that black and white. This being so, the best, indeed many would say the only way that wicked problems can be effectively addressed is by the many stakeholders coming together to identify the root causes and the best possible group of potential albeit partial solutions. Once causes and possible solutions are made visible in a spirit of openness and collaboration beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, then different groups, organisations and individuals can take responsibility for ‘doing their bit,’ collaborating all the while and coming together regularly to check on forward progress and revise and adjust the best ways to tackle the next stage.

So following on from that, my activist/pragmatist mind suggests this. Its high time , indeed well overdue that we, that is the People of the Far North, provide a clear and visionary voice about our needs in relation to Rubbish and Recycling. We’ve been far too quiet for far too long.  Before the Far North District Council ratifies a new Waste Management and Minimisation Plan in June 2017, do you, Dear Reader, have a vision that speaks for us all? If yes, and we are all in need of the vision of  those brave of heart and clear of mind, please may you share it with us all. If not, Brave Reader, do you have courage enough to honour my vision as drafted below, all or in part? Will you stand beside me so our combined voices call out on behalf of ourselves but more for the vulnerable young children of today here in Northland whose future health and wellbeing is so much in our hands?


We, the people of the Far North, choose for life to flourish throughout our region through the wise re-use of all resources and the elimination of harm from packaging and other waste:

  1. We  have a key desire to leave for the latest generation (those born since 2010) a healthy, flourishing and biodiverse region providing well-being for all;
  2. We believe in working together with wisdom, compassion and empathy to bring well-being and harmony for the people and the natural ecosystems of our Far North region;
  3. We look for possibility, partnership and peace;
  4. The rights of current and future generations of Far North people are key;
  5. Subsidiarity ( decision-making at the level of those most affected) is key;
  6. Collaboration of stakeholders is seen as the best way to reach negotiated outcomes that realistically best meet the needs of all Far North people.

To achieve our vision, we Far North people call on FNDC to host a quarterly meeting throughout the period 2017 – 2022 between representatives of the following 5 Stakeholder Groups for collaborative discussion/decision-making using a quadruple bottom line approach (people+planet+profits+sourcing people’s wisdom) to support us, the people of the Far North to achieve our vision for life to flourish throughout the Far North through Wise re-use of all Resources and the elimination of Harm from Packaging and other Waste .


  1. Maori
  2. ‘Waste Warriors’ – a Far North alliance of local community/not-for-profit organisations and individuals committed to waste minimization/waste harm reduction & education
  3. Business – Directors of Companies, Individuals and Member bodies involved in the production, importation, sale, use and distribution of packaging and packaged products in the Far North;
  4.  Spokespeople representing
    1. the rights of children under 16
    2. those yet to be born (2017 – 2030)
    3. today’s youth (17 – 25)
    4. parents of children under 16
    5. other Northland residents
    6. the biodiversity of Far North bush
    7. the biodiversity of Far North marine life
  5. Public Sector – FNDC, Northland Health, NRC and Government

Furthermore, we the people of the Far North have the expectation that each of the above stakeholder representatives at the Quarterly meeting will acknowledge and honour their personal, organisational and collective responsibility for stewardship and restoration of our natural world here in the Far North, respecting the strengths and unique requirements of local communities and the dignity of individuals.

We further expect that every one of our elected Councillors will honour their personal responsibility to bring alive the FNDC Vision 2015-2020: FNDC will be a capable, trusted, and innovative civic leader, serving and inspiring people, maximising opportunities to empower communities and meet their changing needs; while creating great places.              

        So, brave reader, to repeat my question to you, ‘Do you have courage enough to ask for the vision above, all or in part, to be honoured here in the Far North, and stand beside me so our voices speak for ourselves and for vulnerable children here in Northland whose future health and wellbeing is so much in our hands? ‘                                              



3 responses to “WASTE-FREE IN THE FAR NORTH?”

  1. I would like to know more. I am a new resident to Paihia

    I am becoming increasingly concerned about the over-use of plastics and would like some information about how to reduce my use of plastic… food packaging i find very difficult. It is easy to change habits that can be managed individually like shopping bags etc.
    Personally I would like to see brown paper bags in the supermarket again, I have a very vague memory of these as a child. I provide packaged lunches to my customers in a brown paper bag, but unfotunately the contents inside are plastic packaged. I understand food safe laws mean this must be done but it still seems over the top, a packet of biscuits, buscuit sitting in plastic tray- wrapped in plastic, put into a plastic bag. Vegetables picked off the shelf put into plastic bags (why not paper?) then put into plastic bags. Seems rediculously wasteful and very harmful.


    1. Welcome to Paihia Rachael! Yes, you are not the only one who would like to see an alternative to plastic bags in supermarkets! there is currently a move by groups in Kaipara, Whangarei, Rodney and Far North Districts to push for the Councils of these 4 regions to pass a bylaw banning plastic bags. If you follow ‘Paihia Zero Waste’ Facebook Page, we’ll be posting there as more information comes to hand as to how you can support this. and yes, the food hygiene versus the right of the children of today to grow up within an ecosystem that is nurtured and respected so that they have the chance of health and wellbeing is a challenge. May I suggest that if you are interested in considering other packaging options or just want to share your thinking with others, the ‘NZ Businesses moving towards Zero Waste’ FAcebook group could be a good one to join… and more than happy to catch up sometime – I’m always keen to meet with people keen to see change – all credit to you and thank you for the comment.


  2. This is an important approach. I love the quote from Rumi. I’ve seen a real mix in the way many council officials view ideas from different sectors of the community. Some ideas can be immediately written as nutty even though they have great elements in them. You need to provide them with a wide spectrum of viewpoints – essentially saying in different ways the same thing. Some will want to propose a deeply more spiritual approach which I feel is an important part of the conversation – all the more credible in this case because it comes to practical proposals. All the more reason to have them in the mix. It was wacky to propose that we focus on resource recovery rather than waste management a few years back, so times change and so they should, although not fast enough. In short I support and endorse Jane’s proposal, but will also put in a separate submission and hope as many others as possible will do the same.


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