2021 Programme

EnviroPAST 2021

Over two days in July, young people from across Waitaha came together at the University of Canterbury for the second EnviroPAST Conference. The diverse programme meant that attendees left understanding the latest science behind ocean sustainability and having made a tangible difference in their city.


James Nikitine

James is a French and British marine scientist, filmmaker and consultant, originally from the French Alps near Geneva. He holds a MSc in Marine Systems and Policies from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor of Arts in Film from the University of Exeter. For nearly a decade, he has worked globally as a consultant in ocean science and policy communications, on issues of high seas governance, microplastics pollution, climate change impacts on the ocean, deep reef research, ocean risk and marine protected area management. Since 2015 he has been a member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, contributing to its marine task force. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and is a Fellow with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship. Recently he founded Blue Cradle, a non-profit working in New Zealand promoting ocean conservation and literacy.

Dr Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke

Dr Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke is a Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Rachel has a background in medical genetics and completed her PhD at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and University of Melbourne. She then moved into a communications role before joining the Chief Science Advisor’s office. Rachel led the Office’s work on Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019 and supported the work on The Future of Commercial Fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020. She has a broad interest in sustainability and enjoys the challenge of tackling sustainability issues at the science-policy interface in her current role.

Hon Eugenie Sage

Eugenie Sage has been a Green MP since 2011. She chairs Parliament’s Environment select committee and was Minister of Conservation, Minister for Land Information and Associate Environment Minister (waste) from October 2017-October 2020. She is Green spokesperson for environment, oceans and fisheries, conservation, forestry, land information, emergency management and three waters. Eugenie values the ability being an MP gives her to work with communities to protect New Zealand’s environment. “We can and must have wild places across New Zealand, where our natural landscapes are protected, our unique plants and wildlife thrive, and rivers remain clean and healthy, from their source to the sea. A healthy environment is the basis of our wellbeing.”

Prof. Ian Shaw

Ian Shaw is Professor of Toxicology at the University of Canterbury. Professor Shaw is an international expert on the impact of environmental contaminants on human health, particularly in a food safety context, and is a passionate communicator of science. He has had over 40 years’ experience in academia, industry and government, both in the UK and New Zealand, which includes chairing the UK Pesticide Residues Committee and working as the National Food Safety Programme Manager at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), based in Christchurch. He won the NZ Association of Scientists’ Science Communicator’s Award in 2009, and was awarded a DSc by the University of Bath for his work in toxicology and food safety in 2019; but his greatest joy is being awarded Science Lecturer of the Year by the University of Canterbury Students’ Association in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Steve Hathaway

Steve Hathaway has spent his life chasing adventures on and in the ocean. Swimming with orca, sharks and whales is all in a day’s work, with his underwater footage featuring in many international documentaries. These include BBC’s Blue Planet 2 (for which he won a BAFTA), National Geographic’s recent, ‘Secrets of the Whales’ and the popular and timely documentary, ‘Blackfish’ (about orca in captivity).

He created Young Ocean Explorers to inspire this generation of ‘environmental natives’ about our incredible underwater world. Their mission is changing the way we view and treat our ocean through entertaining education and their site www.youngoceanexplorers.com is used and loved by thousands of teachers.

He is a passionate and enthusiastic communicator, with the footage to back up his epic stories!

Riley Hathaway

Riley Hathaway is a passionate 20-year-old ocean advocate.

When she was 12, her school project on turtles and plastic became the inspiration for Young Ocean Explorers, which saw her filming 20 amazing adventures for the popular kids show, ‘What Now’.

Having a dad as an underwater cameraman means she’s spent lots of time on the ocean and has incredible stories of encounters with sea creatures including turtles, orca, whales and sharks.

Riley’s aim is to help kids love the beauty and diversity of our marine life and to create stories that inspire kids to love our ocean and look after it. She is particularly passionate about reducing plastic harm to sea creatures.

Tim Jones (MC)

Tim specialises at working with individuals and organisations to help them tap into their Purpose Fuelled Performance, assisting them in the transition to becoming a force for good – hence Grow Good. His purpose-focused consulting, coaching and training programmes are specially designed for those that want to use their skills to achieve meaningful goals in life and work.

Since starting his business he has worked with organisations such as Meridian Energy, The Co-Operative Bank, The NZ Defence Force, The Chia Sisters, Bivouac Outdoors and Cookie Time to name a few. His business is one of New Zealand’s founding B Corps and he is also B Corp Ambassador for NZ. More recently he has been co-teaching the University of Canterbury MBA Programme “Creating Impact-led Enterprises”.

That’s why he is New Zealand’s #1 B Corp and business for good specialist



Bead & Proceed with Bridget Williams

Our attendees were excited to learn all about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and connected with them personally. Bridget unpacked the SDGs, outlined their history, why they are important and how we’re tracking as a nation. Following this, each attendee made and painted their very own SDG beaded necklace or keyring, selecting the top 5 SDGs they wanted to commit to personally. While creating, they discussed in groups how they would action their chosen goals and inspire others to BEAD the change they want to see in the world. To learn more about what happened check out: www.beadandproceed.com and follow Bead & Proceed on Instagram @beadandproceed

In 2019 Bridget hung up her High Court gown and put on a necklace thus Bead & Proceed was born. Bead & Proceed is a social enterprise that exists to educate people about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspire action towards them through creativity. Her passion for sustainability and using creativity as a tool for innovation has made her a recognised SDGs expert. Her efforts have been recognised and endorsed by the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark and the JCI Osaka Outstanding Young Person’s Programme and she was a finalist for both the Impact Awards and Sustainable Business Awards 2020. Bridget is one of the youngest chairs in local government, a member of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network and Curator of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Christchurch Hub, which has led her to become a creditable global change maker.


Plastic detectives: Identifying Polymer Types of Rubbish with Helena Ruffell 

Have you ever wanted to be a detective? Helena gave a brief presentation about what plastics are, an introduction to polymer types, what they are made from, and why they are a wonder product that has resulted in so much waste. Attendees then put their detective hats on and worked through a practical exercise to figure out the polymer types of a range of unknown plastics. This method could be very useful to figure out what polymer type of plastics have washed up on the beach!

Helena Ruffell is a PhD student at the University of Canterbury, investigating if microplastics impact productive soils. With a background in biochemistry, Helena is passionate about understanding a variety of harmful effects to the environment. From her research, she has adopted a journey to reducing waste and other harmful impacts on the environment in her day-to-day life. Her journey is documented on Instagram, @eatsleepsustain.


Mental Health and Environmental Advocacy with Kotte Aguilar

“Managing your mental health has to be as important as caring for the planet and, trust me, I know when you feel frustrated by those that don’t have the same values and beliefs as yours.” – Kotte. 

How do we navigate this? And how do we cope? This workshop was about providing attendees with tools to manage these difficult situations and conversations but also to help them feel less alone. They left understanding the connection between mental health and climate change.

Kotte’s background is in yoga, mindfulness and meditation, however her skills are diverse and versatile:  she is a speaker, mentor and coach to many. She loves helping startups find a good strategy with a focus on social enterprises.

She is a mental advocate, a youth leader, and she describes herself as an advocate of justice and speaker of the truth. She is passionate about improving mental health in NZ, educating people about climate and exploring in fun, creative ways all difficult topics that we are facing such as depression, abuse, assault, racism, discrimination. 

Kotte was the first yoga teacher to win an award in the Exercise Industry awards and was a TEDx Youth speaker. She has represented New Zealand in different continents and countries, such as Canada and Scotland, presenting to 1400 delegates from 85 countries. 

Her passion is obvious; she is determined to change mental health in our country. Since 2014 she has helped over 15000 youth, kids and adults. Her yoga is fun, creative, unusual; she stands out by making yoga accessible and fun. From yoga-hikes to yoga clean ups, Kotte helps to create awareness about global issues. With a full schedule she will always welcome you with a smile and say yes if she can help. Kotte’s dreams are big but she says that nothing and no one will ever stop her, she wants change and that is what she is doing.


Litter Intelligence with Carla Fonseca Paris

The Litter Intelligence Programme was created to build a national marine litter database by monitoring local beaches to help build an accurate picture of the marine litter problem in Aotearoa and prioritise solutions. The Litter Intelligence Training had two parts: (1) On Friday we provided training for volunteers to take part in this project as Citizen Scientists, providing all the tools required for volunteers to be able to conduct litter surveys at a local beach site (100m x 20m patch of beach) and load the litter data into an easy to use Citizen Science Platform/App we have developed specifically for the project. (2) On Saturday, we headed to Sumner beach and conduct a litter survey. We then classified, counted, and weighed the litter to load it into the Litter Intelligence App. This data is available for everyone to use on www.litterintelligence.org. There are several sites in Christchurch where we have citizen scientist groups doing regular surveys (every 3 months). On the day of the training we connected attendees to these other groups if they wished to continue to monitor marine litter in Christchurch.

Originally from Chile, Carla is a restless soul, always travelling and exploring. Carla first came to New Zealand to complete her PhD in Chemistry. After graduating, she moved to Samoa where she worked in project development at the United Nations for UNESCO, UNDP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  While living in the Pacific Region Carla fell in love with the ocean. She volunteered her time to environmental organizations and community groups such as the Samoa Conservation Society, ProGreen Samoa, Hawaii Wild Fund, and the Hawaii Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Programme. Her love and passion for the ocean took her to pursue a Masters in Marine Conservation to fulfill her dream of contributing to conservation goals and working in the environmental space. She is now the Litter Intelligence Programmes Coordinator at Sustainable Coastlines where she provides support and training for community groups to collect marine litter data around Aotearoa. Her hobbies and passions are also all related to the ocean; she is a waka ama paddler and loves snorkelling and swimming.  

Practical Action

Beach Clean-Up and Litter Audit

For 2021’s practical action event, we teamed up with Yoga by Kotte, Litter Intelligence, and Bacon Brothers for a yoga clean-up and litter audit.

The yoga clean-up team, based at Sumner Beach, began with a stretch and guided meditation with Kotte Aguilar. This was followed by a beach clean-up focussing on both macro and microplastics. 

The litter audit team channeled their learnings from the day one litter intelligence workshop by conducting litter surveys at Sumner Beach and Settlers Reserve, before they gathered at the Sumner Lifeboat Institute to complete their audits.

Both teams concluded by coming together to reflect on their mahi with  burgers from Bacon Brothers.