It’s not my rubbish but it’s my community!

“We are the protectors,” Max reminds others as he sets off up the wharf with bucket in hand.   Once a month a ‘flashmob’ of locals, liveaboard boaties, and visitors find the 90 minutes ‘Earthcare Opua’ gathering is not only rewarding but surprisingly enjoyable!   

Earthcare Opua remains deliberately unstructured. With no-one in charge, newcomers and regulars alike simply assemble in assorted hi-vis with bucket or bag and a protective glove.  The group searches for litter across Opua, ‘harvesting’ debris from roadsides, tracks and the wharf.  “Knowing what I have picked up may keep a seabird or fish safe, means a lot,” explains Janie, “It’s something practical I do once a month that really makes a difference!”

“I can’t believe all the cigarette butts,” a local says. “I must have picked up 100 or more, including a pile outside my mate’s business! Today I’ve found out butts contain plastic and when seagulls feed them to their chicks, it kills them. That’s so crazy!  Tomorrow, I’ll be down to chat with my mate!  I bet he doesn’t even realise! Maybe it’s his workers, maybe customers, but a sand can for stubs wouldn’t be hard eh?”

Amongst the liveaboards from the marina, a competitive element develops.  “Anyone else find more than a dozen cable ties, ‘cut and dropped’? “  A discussion begins around small bits of rubbish washed by yesterday’s under the hard stand fence.  “Another rain and they’d have been floating in the ocean!” says one overseas yachtie who sees the practical impact her work has had. ‘it’s good to help out, and, I’ll be more sparing with cable ties from now on!”

An Aucklander has come with his Opua friends.  He’s shocked by the number of pie wrappers he’s picked out of marina gardens!  Mainly though, he’s pleased his friends persuaded him to come along.  “It’s been great to meet all you guys.  I love coming up here and now I’ve done my bit to care for the Bay!”

Earthcare Opua meets outside The Opua Store the first Sunday of each month at 9am.  All welcome. *Opua Store and the Marina Café kindly support volunteers bringing a reusable cup with a complementary tea or coffee after the pick-up.

Are you unable to make Earthcare Opua next month but want to do your part to protect the Bay?

Opua Business owners – your business no doubt depends on the health of the sea. Is there something more you can do to support your customers and workers to care for our Bay?     

Seafarers – how many cable ties do you really need?

Smokers – could an empty Eclipse Mints tin in your pocket/bag/car be your new ‘butt holder’?

Pie lovers –Would you be willing to consider being a role model for protecting the bay? 

Householders – Still taking packaging you dislike home with your purchase? Help businesses step up to their responsibility to talk with their suppliers about earth-friendly alternatives by handing packaging back in at the store. #timetoasksupplierstochange 

Jane Banfield is a Paihia grandmother with a passion for the ocean.  Her first introduction to yachting was to marry the Kiwi yachtsman who 35 years ago happened upon the remote island school in Vanuatu where she was a volunteer teacher.  A keen kayaker, sailor and almost-daily swimmer, Jane is a self-styled ‘zero waste granny’ who has chosen a low impact packaging-free lifestyle and supports others in the Bay of Islands to do the same.

Resource Recovery : A Far North Vision

What follows is the vision of our ‘Far North Citizens Waste Minimisation Group’  and our request for support –  that I gave via FNDC Annual Plan hearing video link on 6 May 2020 – to our Far North District Mayor and Councillors.

Objectives FNCWMG May 2020I know that 4 pilot resource recovery projects will add hugely to this year’s Annual Plan. I’m going to explain why. But first, a story from the Solomon Islands:
 It is 2015 and I’m a volunteer management and accounting trainer who knows nothing more about rubbish than what I too can clearly see is gross – plastic floating out to sea.

“Jane, would you talk to our school about rubbish littering our coast?” Researching the topic before my first talk, I discover the enormity of the global waste crisis.  Here I am, being looked up to as an ‘expert’ asked for advice, the assumption being that back home where I live in ‘developed’ New Zealand, we have wastefulness sorted!

 It soon dawns on me that I’m preaching: I’m a case of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do!’
I return here to the Bay of Islands. I choose to complete a Masters researching Māori approaches to wastefulness and find ways to ‘walk the talk’ myself as a self-styled ‘Zero Waste Granny’.

Perhaps that longing to ‘walk the talk’ and reduce rubbish touches a chord in you too?  It’s certainly brought a group of us here in the Far North together over lockdown to give practical voice to our common deepfelt feeling that wastefulness isnt ok.  We aren’t looking for perfection, but seek that  :

90% of what can be composted in the Far North will be composted
 90% of what can be recycled will be recycled

FNDC’s current Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2017 – 2023 calls all of us to Waste nothing of value or use while working towards zero waste”   and
“Reduce the harmful effects of waste and improve the efficiency of resource use”

 The strategic business plan our Far North Waste Minimisation Group has drafted –  finding favour with local hapū and Pakeha alike –  honours these council goals by increasing resource recovery capacity 3 ways :

  • 15 Organic Farmlet enterprises collecting kitchen waste – small market gardening businesses solving a social issue
  • 10 more Community Recycling drop-off stations – access for everyone as easy as to supermarkets
  • 2 more full size Resource Recovery Centres – engaging in reuse, repair and repurposing


But why insert pilot resource recovery projects into this year’s annual plan?
3 reasons:
1. Employment (1 tonne waste kept out of landfill is evidenced to create up to 10 jobs)
Community resilienceAround NZ more than 30% of kitchen waste goes to landfill. Its madness to be wasting this!   5+ A Day means 5 lots of 80g that’s 400g of fresh produce. We can do this easily in our district. And urban farms build local food security, create hubs for social cohesion and add wellbeing into neighbourhoods. Moreover as my own recent Masters research evidenced, people feel better when they recycle, compost and stop being so wasteful. 
3.Climate change mitigation  – recycling food waste reduces carbon emissions, so does less trucking waste out of the district while improving the quality of soil enhances biodiversity which in turn removes carbon from air .

Things have changed with Covid19.   All  5 sectors of our Far North Economy …
i. Hapū
ii. Householders
iii. Those protecting and regenerating our common natural spaces and ecosystems on behalf of us all
iv. Businesses
v. Local & national government

…. are calling for regenerative recovery solutions.

This plan is excitingly simple, low cost, builds on tried and tested concepts and builds into the circular economy.

 Our growing network of practitioners around the Far North wants to see the district not only achieve the goals of the waste minimisation plan but for our district to be demonstrating leadership to other districts by dealing with food waste at a community level.

2 pilot farmlets* and 2 pilot community recycling stations can be operational by the end of this year.  A strategic business plan with costings is already drafted and 10 of us will meet again tomorrow night.  We want to open discussions with council urgently.

Not only will these resource recovery pilots provide jobs, Community-led resilience and mitigate climate change mitigation , our network’s vision IS Council’s vision!

As the Mayor himself stated in 2017, regarding Council’s target of reducing landfill waste from 320kg in 2016 to 200kg by 2023 :
“This is an ambitious goal, but a necessary one, if we are to become a more sustainable District.  We cannot keep building new landfills; they are expensive to operate, and harmful to the environment as there is potential ground water contamination and methane release to the atmosphere.  They are also a legacy our children and their children won’t thank us for leaving them.  We need to do better, and we can do better. 

Far North Flourishing kds

‘How Did We Get So Lucky Grandma’? Far North Holdings 2040

 “How did we get so lucky here in Tai Tokerau, Grandma?” a child in 2040 asks one of the community elders.  “It all started,’ she explains, “when five local groups came together after the Covid19 crisis…..Far North Flourishing kds
The Local Government Amendment Act 2019 gives Councils responsibility to ‘Promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and the future.’ 
FNHL protest bannerSo why does the Statement of Intent of our Council’s company Far North Holdings focus solely on financial outcomes? Surely our ratepayers’ company is best governed in the broad long-term interests of us all?
What follows is my reminder of this ‘oversight’  – via FNDC Annual Plan hearing video link on 6 May 2020 to our Far North District Mayor and Councillors.

The corporate arm of Wellington Council is entrusted to:
              “Exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when possible.”

I am going to explain why good governance by our own council calls for amendment throughout this year’s Annual Plan to reflect the responsibility to promote all 4 aspects of wellbeing.   But first,  a story …..
 It’s May 6th 2040 and our children, grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and their peers are celebrating! They are stakeholders within a flourishing and regenerative Far North district and revel in how no-one is left out. All residents have the means to access their preferred choices for fresh healthy locally-produced food, warm homes, safe communities and sports, learning and outdoor recreation opportunities. 

 “How did we get so lucky, Grandma?” a child asks one of the community elders.  “It all started,’ she explains, “when five groups identified within our local economy came together after the Covid19 crisis. It felt wierd at first, meeting online together. We representatives of hapu, of householders, of businesses, of ecosystems, and of local and national government met together regularly and realised in our hearts was a common goal:  to gear up for a future for you children to grow up in a flourishing and sustainable district where no-one would be left out.“

“Remember”, another kuia reminisces, “How we talked with that economist, Kate Raworth?   We came up with 2 questions:
 ‘How many benefits can we generate in how we design our Far North Economy? ‘ and  “How can we build in good along the way?“
“It all seemed too big a task eh?” The first elder continued. “But then we found we all agreed where we needed to start, with effective citizen-led governance for ‘Far North Holdings’, the business we all had a stake in, or rather we thought we did…..“



I’m here to add to the voice for change to FNHL from fellow SEA CHANGE members.  I reiterate the need to reflect all 4 wellbeings, not simply one, in our council company’s ‘statement of intent’. FNHL is, or should be a ‘social enterprise’. Let me remind you again of the clause Wellington Council, who clearly understand the concept,  use in their Statement of Intent:
“Exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when possible.”

The 21st century corporate adventure means doing things differently.  There’s a clear shift from the old thinking of ’How much financial value can I extract?‘ to a new mindset: ‘How many benefits can we generate in the way we design the system?  / How can we do good along the way ?  / Is the organisation regenerative by design?’  

.Marjorie Kelly Owning our Future

Corporate analysist, Marjorie Kelly describes 5 criteria of a 21st century company:

  1. Purpose – what is the mission?   Is it ‘Increasing market share’ or a ‘safe and flourishing Far North’?
  2. Governance – what incentives do staff have ?  Are they around increased profits or are they around cutting water use, cutting carbon, and further wellbeing outcomes? 
  3. Networks  – do these align with others who share their values ?
  4. Ownership – who are the stakeholders –  how impactful is their voice?
  5. Finance  – where is the voice of finance situated? Is it ‘how much financial value can we extract from this’ or does finance add to the wider benefits that are generated by the organisation? 

Council’s responsibility is governance not management : it is to be the dog not to allow the tail to do the wagging!
It’s time to walk the talk of wellbeing. An informed understanding cannot come from metrics of dollars or numbers of jobs in the district. Wellbeing is when people are able to lead fulfilling lives with purpose, balance and meaning to them.  For wellbeing to arise post-Covid19, financial factors alone will never get us there.FNHL logo

21st century understanding recognises how wellbeing deends upon social, cultural and environmental factors alongside  financial aspects. Amending  Council systems, wordings and processes to reflect its mandated responsibility for ‘wellbeing’ is a no-brainer.  The simple task of updating Far North Holding’s statement of intent will  become a role model for Council’s mission to be a visionary collaborator with the other 4 elements of the formal and informal Far North Economy: Hapu, Householders, Guardians of the natural commons and Businesses.   If what we seek is a flourishing and sustainable Far North where each person finds purpose, balance and meaning with none left behind, will Council start the ball rolling and update FNHL and the Annual Plan on behalf of our children?


FN Economy Contributors 2020


By September this year, the Far North District council must decide between 2 alternative processes for the next local government elections in 2022.

Do they vote to keep the status quo, the current First-Past-the-Post electoral ‘race’ or follow the lead of 11 progressive councils last year, and adopt the ‘Single-Transferable-Vote system?

‘STV’  stands  for  ‘Simple To Vote’!  It’s a fairer more democratic system where every vote for councillors, community board members and for the mayor counts.


As Professor Priya Kurian, Political Science and Public Policy lecturer at University of Waikato, points out,  “STV’s ability to better reflect the will of the entire voting population means it’s more likely to produce councils that look like the communities they represent.” [1]  Locals I speak with see a change to STV as well overdue.  It’s common knowledge that in last year’s elections, our current mayor received only 29% of the vote while some elected councillors and community board members ‘won’ only 10 or 11% of the vote.  The votes of the majority of citizens were wasted.TEMPLATE PAGE

Local government is a two-way relationship. We elect our local government leaders to go into battle on issues that matter to us.  Having a more diverse council will lessen the risk of them offending citizens by not understanding their needs and perspectives.   Citizens need to be able to identify with the members of Council and their local Community Board to maintain trust that elected members ‘have got their back.

The system only works well when we trust council and community board leaders to meet our needs and they can trust us to support them.   For our Council whose services are spread thinly over a vast area, support and collaboration with the general public is essential.

Take the current uproar in communities across the Far North about the actions of Far North Holdings Limited!  Furious local citizens of Russell, Opua, and Rangitane view the lack of transparency and consultation over wide-sweeping actions of FNHL as well outside the council mandate they expect.  An apparent disregard for the council’s legislated responsibility to ‘promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and the future’ [2] has grown into distrust of the local community board and our district council and a polarised ‘us v them’ approach.

We know STV is more representative, but will council members be willing to change the system that elected them?  If ego and complacency in the current system prevents councillors from supporting a change from FPP, a request for a district-wide poll is expected from Far North residents.  Its an expensive and labour-intensive option.  Why go to all that expense when it simply needs Council members to pass the resolution in favour of STV?stv flow chart

Author, Jane Banfield is a long-term resident of Paihia, a grandmother and a volunteer in the SEA CHANGE movement (www.seachange.kiwi), set up last year to see transformation within Far North local government to address local climate, environmental and community issues.    In February 2020, Jane and fellow SEA CHANGE volunteer, Andrew Riddell spoke at the  public FNDC meeting to point out the many benefits of a shift to STV. 

[1] Professor Priya Kurian, Political Science and Public Policy lecturer at University of Waikato https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/opinion/115706549/diversity-key-to-responsive-local-government

[2] 2019 Amendment: Local Government Act


“Zero Waste is such a special doorway”, I explained to anyone who engaged me in conversation about my lifestyle last year.  In mid-2016 when I chose to quit single-use plastic, motivated by the destruction I knew was happening in the oceans, I felt very scared. I worried that I’d miss out, make a fool of myself, become an outcast.  I couldn’t know that leaping out from the safe norm to that very different ‘zero waste’ lifestyle would 3 years later seem one of the most fulfilling choices I have ever made.  I have found zero waste to be a portal to new discoveries about my world, about other people and about myself, and as I discovered in Masters research interviews last year, other ‘zero wasters’  too discover this same doorway to greater choice and fulfilment.

More and more people I meet seem to be considering whether to go ‘plastic-free’, their first step in seriously reducing a personal ‘waste footprint’.   However, others express fear or sadness that reducing their own ‘waste footprint’ is irrelevant for they have seen levels of waste in S-E Asia, or realise manufacturers are not shouldering their share of responsibility, or understand that much of recycling is a ‘have’.  I’m aware of these issues too.  “We take along with us those who are ready for the journey,” says an African proverb.   Over this year I plan to document how I show up in the world as a ‘zero waste granny’ and why I continue to walk the talk.  For ‘those ready’, I want to share low impact practices and wider understandings that work for me today, as well as others I am yet to fully embrace. Meantime dear reader, do these new year’s resolutions for 2020 by Australian permaculture artist, Brenna Quinlan, challenge you into further practical behaviour shifts? They do me!  New Years resolutions

Continue reading “SHOWING UP AS A ZERO WASTE GRANNY IN 2020”


Cigarettes were part of my family’s history. My great-grandfather began a small cigarette company in England. My parents smoked. My husband smoked. I smoked.  I remember the awkwardness of cigarette butts. What to do with them?  Back then I didn’t know there was plastic in them, and that if dropped, birds and other marine life would eat them and get sick.

I know now. As a Zero Waste Granny, I spend hours each month as I walk along, picking up butts along with other roadside litter.  I know that each butt I pick up may save it being eaten by a seabird. Last week, the rain came and stormwater flooded down the side of the road, sweeping the roadsides clean and gifting every cigarette butt and piece of plastic litter into the world of marine creatures, those very ones that make the Bay so special for each one of us.

As a smoker, a friend gave me a special gift.  It was a small screw top tin that she had hand painted in my favourite colours. This little tin meant a lot to me, it made me feel valued and cared for, honoured my dignity and my choice to be a smoker, yet allowed me to value and care for the environment wherever I stood.  I kept it in my bag, in my car, used it at home.   Today, caring for our environment is more urgent than ever.  Like my friend all those years ago, I can find ways to support others using alternatives to just the quick drop to the ground of a butt, or two.   It may be public ashtrays, a painted tin,  or just a caring dialogue with a smoker about how together we can care for our Bay.  It’s our common future, eh?  #FarNorth.Us.Flourishing.



Its 2019 and time for new vision! Last year, though it felt odd being at university at the age of 60,  I chose to become a Masters research student.  I wanted to find out why mainstream waste minimisation strategies were not working and whether the national Māori zero waste organisation, Para Kore, had a more useful approach.  Studying has been ridiculously hard, immensely rewarding, has given me a vision for our region, the Far North.

What I’ve found while interviewing folk who were moving to zero waste lifestyles is an inspiring commonality.  New Zealand citizens of all ages and walks of life that adopt zero waste lifestyles demonstrate a spacious and contented sense of being who they want to be. ‘Zero wasters’ had formed greater connections with  neighbours and community,  felt good about themselves, and enjoyed improved household health and wellbeing. Costs were down too but it was their sense of respect for the natural ecosystems around them and a regained understanding of deep held principles that set these people apart.  You couldn’t help being drawn to their lifestyle and it started me thinking more widely. 


I’m convinced (and excited) that for us local householders, a flourishing Far North region is ‘ours for the taking’!  Far North Flourishing is a vision of every Far North home celebrating life, health and vitality.  Of neighbourhoods not just safe but are flourishing.  Loneliness a thing of the past, children thriving, and ecosystems regenerating.   Birdsong returning to the bush, people enjoying the support of their neighbours, and the coastal waters beginning to burst afresh with marine life.

Would you be willing to shelve for a moment your ‘Yes, but….’ thinking (not an easy thing to do, for reasons that will become clear later)  and read on,  open to this possibility of a flourishing Far North region?  To share the 3 reasons which lead me to this conviction,  I’ve mapped my thinking across three blogs: i. Where it Starts ii. There is no ‘Them’ iii. Let the Journey Begin.   Like all maps there are a few twists and turns so it requires a bit of focus. I’m trusting you, dear reader, find inspiration for a celebratory year ahead. 

 Part One

Where it Starts: Householders are powerful influencers 


 “You will never solve problems using the same thinking that created them”, Einstein advised. Yet, that’s what we householders seem to be doing now, expecting businesses and the government to resolve the issues they have created?  Flogging a dead horse. Householders angrily railing against the business sector or the state at not sorting problems that have arisen: river pollution, or mental health, or obesity or the issues of waste.  It’s not surprising citizens see themselves as powerless, given recent political history.

pic of neoliberal economy
Outdated 20th-century  view of an Economy

For decades politicians have relegated us householders to a role as ‘consumers’. We’ve been told we need an economy something like that in the picture above where the business sector becomes the driver of an ever-growing economy, benefits ‘trickle down’ to all, and the government is on hand to sort out any issues. It was a political idea called ‘neoliberalism’. But while this system was meant to work out for everyone, it’s increasingly clear to every ‘man in the street’ that it is failing. The whole system seems broken. Well, perhaps it is! More and more economists and global political thinkers believe this political idea is well past its use-by-date if it ever had one, and I agree! 

This neoliberal economic model was never about reality, merely how a few reasonably brainy economists wildly over-simplified economic thinking down to a basic model so people could ‘get it’.  And they did! Because of the model’s simplicity and the needs of the time, this neoliberal model of ‘free market economies’ and ‘decoupling environmental issues from economic growth’ swept across the world.  Embraced first by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s, New Zealand followed soon after.   This same over-simplified idea that ‘a growing economy will make everybody thrive’ underpins practices of the Far North District Council today.  

Neoliberal politics saw the Far North District Council’s role shift from coordinating services on behalf of householders to becoming an economic driver in the region.  When problems developed from business sector activities which couldn’t be resolved by the Council, that same ‘Yes, but..” response came to the fore with justification or blame in place of local people working together to develop solutions.  Far North Holdings became a commercial business arm no longer open to control by the public, accountability  for decisions taken and outcomes achieved by FNDC narrowed to financial measures while  accountability for social, cultural and environmental wellbeing was pushed aside. 

In the depths of our being, we sense the issues all around us, threatening our wellbeing and that of our beloved natural environment.   The gap between wealthy and poor is growing, pollution of our environment is more and more obvious, mental and physical health is patchier, and loneliness is at an all time high.  We feel the system is doomed and unable to create the wellbeing we need so we householders have increasingly disconnected from both local and national politics.  We are left with that useless but understandable pastime of railing angrily at ‘them’ out of frustration. And while many sense that blaming ‘them’  is having  little effect,  just flogging a dead horse, what else can be done? 

Well, hey, remember neoliberalism was just one story that a few guys dreamed up to help us get a handle on the complexity of the workings of national economies. As political journalist, George Monbiot [3] puts it, “Neoliberalism is dead: we need a new story”.  Lets get real: those people and organisations to whom we address our ‘they should do something’ rants are themselves powerless within a broken system.  Surely, we must look into alternatives? 

The good news is that a new political model is now visibly emerging around the world.  It’s emerging here in the Far North too, you just may not be aware of it yet. Often termed the “Politics of Belonging”[3], it’s based around a newer wiser model of the economy[4] (see diagram) that progressive economists these days realise better depicts the real world. 

pic of Monbiot economy
The 4 drivers of  a 21st-century Economy. 

Now a way to resolve the challenges we face in the 21st century becomes clear.  Look carefully, can you see how we householders are now not merely portrayed as ‘consumers’ but understood as playing a vital role in driving our economy? Householders have power, just as the State and Business sectors do.  Indeed, more so, for we are also the ones that look after and create the vitality of the commons, those shared resources that belong to us all that are so vital to our national economy. 

when the people lead the leaders will follow Gandhi

This is what is so exciting, so empowering, knowing that what we householders do makes an essential difference to the way the nation runs.  So, if we aren’t as powerless as we’ve led ourselves to believe in recent years, can what we Far North householders do make enough difference to allow our region to flourish?  I believe so.  

There’s an African phrase, ‘Sihamba nabahambayo‘ which means, ‘We take along with us those who are ready for the journey’[1].  My next blog, ‘From Rubbish to Flourish Part Two: There is no ‘them’’ is subtitled, ‘It’s too lonely by ourselves but ‘easy as’ when we do stuff together with others’. In this blog,  you will also discover if you are a ‘Drifter’, an ‘Anchor’, a ‘Voyager’ or a ‘Treasure’!  You may find it’s just the journey you’ve been waiting for. 
th (1)

[1] Dare not Linger: the Presidential Years. Nelson Mandela & Mandla Langa (2017).p. 31. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374134716

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kisXBXBycn8

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BHOflzxPjI



I love the way that here in NZ we have true local area representation in parliament. Hence I am approaching our local MP who last year signed his name to petitioning the government for refundable bottle deposits.  Now it seems hard to contact him….  Latest email sent 10 February 2018 (correspondence as from 1st January below):   Dear Matt      I and many who share the zero waste kaupapa here in the Far North are waiting to hear how you can represent our voice in Parliament.     Would you be willing to let me know what you will do for us so that  I can pass it on to all those others in our Social Media groups?

Sincerely   Jane B

Ps pic attached shows the 43 bottles and cans – amongst other stuff – that I collected on a walk yesterday morning in the 500m stretch up the hill and down the other side from Paihia Beach to Te Haumi Beach.  I believe it speaks for itself…

Email sent  1 Febrary 2018    Hi Matt

I’m not an expert, just a passionate Far North Citizen, concerned about getting ‘all our ducks in a row’ so together we  look after the mana of the whenua and moana of  our region.  I see the importance of these deposits not just for their own sake but  o restore and regenerate our mana for the sake of us, the people of the Far North,  currently using these items, our ancestors and our children. We aren’t, in my opinion, doing  well right now either at generating environmental mana nor our own.  Bottle deposits become a lead in to our regaining a greater felt connection with the natural world as what we do each day shows us that we are looking after it rather than defacing it.  That increase in our own mana spills over into enhancing connection with one another.  It’s a bigger picture than it may look at first…..

My understanding is that the main work on this has been done by Envision http://www.envision-nz.com/projects/  – check out the 2015 report, The InCENTive to Recycle, looked at the effectiveness of bringing back bottle refunds (cash for containers) to lift recycling rates in New Zealand.   Also an Auckland Council commissioned, independent cost benefit analysis of the Envision model released in December 2017

The people who form the NZ Product Stewardship Council  are also knowledgeable about this area.   https://www.nzpsc.nz/faq/ and I am sure would be keen to provide you with what ever further information you need.

As you may be aware Scotland has recently joined the countries using the scheme – and Coca Cola is on board with the idea. , Britain is looking into it seriously https://www.nzpsc.nz/uk-impacts-of-a-deposit-refund-system-for-one-way-beverage-packaging-on-local-authority-waste-services/

and as I pointed out before , Australia looks like this :

Quite honestly – what is there not to like?



Email received 1 February 2018    Hi Jane

Do you have info from overseas jurisdictions that we could model any proposed changes in NZ on.
Email sent 1 February 2018   Dear Matt

I imagine you may be now back at work and I believe you will be interested to read of what is happening in New South Wales:

“More than 50 million drink containers have been returned through the Return and Earn recycling program since it began in December 2017. NSW Environment Protection Authority Acting Chair and CEO Mark Gifford said daily returns are averaging 1.5 million drink containers. Weekends tend to be the busiest times for returns, with last Sunday peaking at over 1.8 million returns.”  (http://wastemanagementreview.com.au/50-million-drink-containers-collected-return-earn/)

As you are now well known amongst Far North citizens anxious to see refundable deposits on drinks containers from your pre-election commitment to this in Russell last year, would you now be willing to clarify what you will do to ensure advanced deposits are in place on all bottles and cans by the end of this year for the benefit of us all, the citizens of New Zealand and the other living creatures with whom we share this common world?

Jane B

Email received 17 January 2018    Hi Jane

I’m still on holiday will get back to you later.

Regards Matt King Northland MP


Email sent 17 January 2018    Good morning Matt

As I walked up Seaview Road this morning, in the first 250 metres I picked up – amongst other discards – these bottles and cans – see pic attached. It reminded me that I haven’t yet heard back from you regarding what you are going to do for us your constituents and the wellbeing of the Far North environment regarding ensuring a bottle deposit scheme is in place for all bottles and cans in NZ by the end of 2018.

As you are now well known amongst Far North citizens keen to see this go from your pre-election commitment to this in Russell last year, would you now be willing to clarify what you will do to ensure advanced deposits are in place on all bottles and cans by the end of this year?

Jane b

Email sent 5 January 2018   Hi Matt

While you are discussing the bottle deposit scheme with your colleagues, this will I think be really helpful – a short video that explains the whole system and how it works – wish I’d seen it earlier!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKhzcq_bSq4

I will wait to hear what you think.

Sincerely  Jane B

Email sent 2 January    Hi Matt

My understanding is that it doesn’t affect retailers at all apart from a very minor increase in the price of drinks.  The drinks companies add the 10c per drink bottle for example and pay this into a fund managed by Stakeholders. Community recycling depots refund the 10c to the person who brings in the bottle and are reimbursed from the managed fund.  (You will see the full costs and benefits to all Stakeholders including local and central government and the drinks industry set out in the Envision Report (see below).

As the money is invested in the meantime these funds and the interest earned  add to those obtained from the sale of the product by the centres to recycling businesses and just about cover the whole cost of the system.  What I like is that these centres bring jobs to the regions too – as well as taking the costs away from Councils and onto those directly involved, producers and consumers – to me this looks like a win-win for us the people of the Far North.  And the great thing is that the legislation is already in place in the 2008 Waste Minimisation Act – it just needs the will to put the scheme in place.  I know so well from my personal discussions that the Kiwi public are absolutely behind it; they see it as a no-brainer.

(For your information, drinks companies are coming on board across the globe. See for example this article ‘Coca-Cola backs Scottish bottle deposit scheme calls’ http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-39055909 )

In response to your first request for back up information, I have now located the 2015 Envision Report that I was seeking  (you will find the full report at this link  and I believe it will provide the clarity you need to discuss the issue further with your colleagues   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By5tj62u3HilUzZfSGNGTk5vd1k/view  )

Here are a few salient points from the report:

KEY FEATURES OF THE Container Deposit Scheme  proposed in this report are:

  • Government declares beverage containers a priority product requiring a mandatory product stewardship scheme to be put in place and sets a system target rate of 85%
  • A minimum refundable 10-cent deposit applies to all beverage containers
  • A Managing Agency is set up by the beverage industry and other stakeholders

to coordinate and manage the flow of materials and funds through the system

  • The Business and Social Enterprises sets up a collection system of convenient drop-

off points where the public can receive refunds for their containers.


The predicted benefits of the model include:

  • At least double the quantities of all beverage containers recovered (with a

target of 85%)

  • At least 45,865 additional tonnes of containers diverted from landfill (an

increase of 43%)

  • At least 700 million additional containers diverted from landfill (an increase of 74%)
  • Potential savings to NZ ratepayers of between $26million and $40million per

annum from refuse collection savings (based on bag rates of between $2 and $3

per bag)

  • Reduced litter and litter control costs
  • Reduced costs to councils and ratepayersthrough higher kerbside recycling revenues
  • Increased business opportunities for recyclers as a result of the increased

volumes of clean recycled materials

  • Up to 2,400 new, entry-level to managerial- level jobs spread throughout the country
  • New business opportunities for entrepreneurs to set up collection depots
  • New income streams for social service groups who can collect containers

for refunds and also to set up social enterprises to operate collection depots


Please get back to me with your thoughts. I’m here to assist.

Jane B

Email received 2 January 2018    from Matt King

I went on the website and watched the short video question I have is this would be a huge burden to retailers and who would pay.

Regards Matt King Northland MP

Email sent 2 January 2018    Hi Matt, I appreciate your positive response.

Just checking with those that know more than me what would be the best information to send you.  Here’s one recent article about whats happening in the UK for you in the meantime… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/22/recycling-giant-backs-mps-call-uk-plastic-bottle-deposit-scheme/

I will be back to you soon.  Jane B

Email received 1 January 2018 Hi Jane

Happy to look into this.  Send me the information I need it helps when similar countries have such a scheme  that  makes it easier to sell to the law makers.

Regards Matt King Northland MP

Email sent 1st January 2018    Hi Matt

I hear more and more concern – from people in the Far North both in person and online, anxious about the amount of rubbish on the roadsides and in the streams and on beaches. A lot of this is plastic bottles, glass bottles and drink cans.

You told me at the Russell Birdman Festival that you are in favour of these advanced deposits.    By the end of this year every State in Australia will have introduced a deposit system – will you as our local Far North MP  push New Zealand to do this too for the sake of our whenua and moana here in the Far North. It needs your help. We the people of the Far North need your help.

The facts are indisputable – have a look at https://kiwibottledrive.nz/solution/  if you would like more information. The campaign was started and is still being driven by a resident of the Far North, Warren Snow from Kaitaia. I have copied him into this email. I am sure he would be keen to provide you with more information if required. The FNDC is all in favour . It looks like deposit refunds will be introduced in Scotland and the UK before long …. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/11/plastic-bottle-deposit-return-scheme-could-save-englands-councils-35m-a-year   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/22/recycling-giant-backs-mps-call-uk-plastic-bottle-deposit-scheme/

Matt, will you please put your weight behind  advanced deposits – young Nats may be keen to take this up too if they haven’t already  – lets get this in action for the sake of us all here in the Far North and our children and grandchildren’s future.

Meanwhile, I and 2 others are working to put a water drinking and bottle refilling fountain into the Paihia waterfront – we are doing what we can, can you please do your bit too.

Hei konā mai i roto i ngā mihi /Goodbye for now & thank you



February 14th 2018

“Dear John
I have a need to know that I am looking after the wellbeing of my brothers and sisters of all species. I also have a need for respect.
It is hard for me to meet these needs from your continued lack of response to the letter and gifts that I sent in a spirit of goodwill and friendship during the first week of the New Year. I feel sad and concerned.

I wrote requesting your leadership in an area which I genuinely I believe is of importance to all of us citizens of the Far North and I have many fellow Far North residents following the outcome with interest as they too await your response.

Let us work together on behalf of Papatuanuku/Mother Earth and for the good of the people alive now, our ancestors and the people that will follow.

I look forward to hearing that FNDC will embrace the Ecostar certification department by department, completing this throughout by Easter 2018.


Jane B ”


Email Monday 20th March to  Hon John Carter QSO, Mayor Far North District Council

Dear John

The Cycle Way is awesome!  I loved riding it on Saturday, as did the friend I roped in who hadn’t been on a bike for years!  I’m now looking forward to my daughters, son-in-law and visitors from overseas riding that part in the near future!  Its so good to see this project come to fruition – all credit to the Green Party for initiating the concept around NZ,  all those individuals who have pushed it along, and for your Council following up on it.  I love the idea of new parts of Northland being opened up to such a gentle way of seeing our region.


However, I am concerned that we keep the Trail ‘clean and green’. As you will see from pic, on Saturday I already picked up a considerable amount of waste ( and had to leave more behind as I couldn’t carry it)!   I believe we need to create a culture right from the start which proactively educates NZ and overseas riders – and locals – in a ‘ Zero Waste Kaitiakitanga’  :

  • Lets make it easy for riders to make good choices which protect our land and sea environment and lets create fun signage about why using primary school kids art works
  • Lets ensure local people , trustees, Iwi and business people build a culture of stewardship of our Northland Environment right from the start.
  • Lets keep plastic from affecting fish stocks, shellfish and other marine life.  It needs to be recognised that the waste that gets dropped will be washed by rainstorms into drains and hence into the sea ( see pic of plastic yoghurt carton almost there –  on side of marsh raised walkway) – the trail is highly vulnerable, given sections by rivers, by streams, and by the coast
  • Sophisticated European tourists don’t want to see the amount of rubbish that I for example picked up along the trail on Saturday ( see pic of my ‘hoard’ at the finish showing as much as I could carry: 3 cans, 6 PET soft drink bottles, 5 crisp packets, 1 pie bag, 2 flavoured milk bottles, 1 yoghurt carton but had to leave many other items I was unable to carry) ) . Lets aim for rave reviews about our environmental policy on the Trail.
  • Lets showcase that ‘Northlanders care’ about generations yet to come and about our natural world

Why not

  • Set a goal say for July 2018 whereby the Twin Coast Trail will be a fully  Zero Waste Trail
  • Raise awareness of the issues amongst trustees by sharing this short video : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5d2fqg_it-s-time-to-ditch-the-disposable-plastics_news
  • Define Zero Waste = No rubbish whatsoever that goes to landfill =  anything that’s discarded becomes a resource for something else. This means switching to reusable, compostable and recyclable food and drink packaging
  • What makes a ‘ Zero Waste Trail’ would best be brainstormed by those involved but here are 10 ideas for starters:
    1. All businesses along the Trail must be Ecostar rated by July 2018 in order to be promoted on maps, website etc
    2. Signage created by schoolkids (after all , it is their future that is at stake) describing why the Trail is Zero Waste and why its important ( Opua School kids already do great art work around the issues of waste/marine plastic for example) at intervals along trail – request sponsorship from Waste levy funding perhaps to pay for signs?
    3. In promotional material, strongly discourage riders from carrying any disposable plastic items such as single use water bottles, food packaging etc by explaining the Zero Waste policy and reasons why
    4. ‘Leave only footprints’ ( or ‘Leave only cycle tracks’)  message to be promoted and/or http://www.take3.org/
    5. Ban businesses from using disposable cups/glasses (Interestingly the café we stopped at above the stream half way along was saying how they were really aware that they didn’t want to use the disposable cups they were supplying and felt bad that they were doing so but weren’t organised enough – it is my belief this is true of many, they want to make more eco-friendly choices but need leadership to do so)
    6. Set up a few water bottle refilling stations (like Opua School’s gift to  Paihia ( set up on Horotutu  by the Info Centre)
    7. Sell stylish customised Trail branded re-usable cups at start and finish of trail sections and at each cafe along the way eg   http://www.cuppacoffeecup.com/nz/customise/
    8. Sell customised re-usable metal water bottles  eg http://www.ipromote.co.nz/promotional-products/drink-bottles
    9. Encourage sale of items with compostable packaging such as  Trade Aid chocolate bars / various coffee roasters bags
    10. Make it a trend to have cafes and maraes using funky mismatched op shop cups or mugs / glasses and no disposable ones


  • Ensure ALL  further FNDC events such as that held at Horeke on Saturday are Zero Waste ie all items used can be and are recycled or composted. ( Many Councils around NZ now hold only Zero Waste Events cf http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/Our-District/on-to-it/sustainable-communities/zero-waste-events/ so no glad wrap over food, no food in soft plastic wrapping eg crisps, biscuits etc ( until soft plastic recycling is brought in in Far North ), no disposable cups, plastic bottles of water – replace with filling station and remind people to bring their own bottles –  etc. (Once FNDC is Ecostar-rated itself of course this will become second nature…😊)

Not only will this focus on Zero Waste for the Trail be useful in itself, it will also give Far North citizens (and FNDC) an aspirational target to achieve for other ventures.  #togetherwecandoit

What do you think?