Whakatane Ki Mua and Waste-Zero-Whakatane teamed up to create a Plastic-Free July competition for school kids with the generous support of Diveworks Whakatane.
There were two age group categories, primary and secondary, with Dolphin and Seal Encounter prize packs up for grabs.
The challenge was for students to come up with an invention or idea that would help to prevent plastic from entering our oceans, or to remove what is already there.
The judging panel included the Whakatane Ki Mua Coordinator, a waste management expert, Councillor Nandor Tanczos and Whakatane District Council’s Solid Waste Manager.
“The entries were vibrant and inspiring,” says Whakatane Ki Mua Coordinator Rebecca McKay.
“Judging was tough.”
The primary age category winner Charlotte Billings from Whakatane Intermediate School, edged out over the completion with her researched PowerPoint, which highlighted the oceanic plastic issue of fishing gear, which makes up almost half of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” which is the world’s largest and most famous collection of floating trash sitting in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.
The secondary age category winner, Nelli Hyotynen, drew on her Finnish heritage and her entry was brimming with practical ideas. The focus was higher-level, targeting business and industry to make sustainable and waste-minimising choices easier for consumers.
Two more entries, one from Amelia MacKenzie aged 8 from St. Joseph’s School and the other one from Ciara aged 6 from Ohope Beach School, received highly commended awards from the judges for their thoughtful and practical ideas that everyone can implement to make a difference now.