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Isabel Macdonald, South New Brighton School

Plastic straws are bad. Most people use them once, then throw them out. Then by some unknown force of evil, many end up in the ocean. Plastic breaks down into microplastics, then fish, seabirds and turtles eat them thinking they’re a yummy little snack. Some people know how terrible plastic straws are, but many are unaware or don’t care, and use them in their daily life.

Some people actually do need straws. Many people with disabilities, or people that are unwell in hospital, truly need plastic straws to drink safely. But in New Zealand alone, we use around 200 million plastic straws every year. That is way too many! New Zealand is actually one of the worst nations in the world for wasting plastic.

We throw away an average of 159 grams each, every day. In Wellington, some restaurants use up to 800 straws every week! Frustratingly, plastic straws are one of the most commonly found pieces of rubbish on our beaches. Sustainable Coastlines, a New Zealand environmental charity, have collected over 65,000 plastic straws in the last ten years on the beaches of Aotearoa. In a recent study, researchers found that there are as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws on the world’s beaches! Over lockdown last year, our neighbours took part in a beach clean up. We collected over three bags of rubbish, including plastic straws and lots of microplastics.

When our class visited EcoSort in Christchurch this year, we found out that anything smaller than a yogurt pottle goes to landfill. Plastic straws are a problem because people are putting them into the recycling and they cannot be recycled here in Christchurch. They are actually almost impossible to recycle so they usually end up in landfill, or worse, in the sea. Unacceptably, many plastics take as long as 200 years or longer to decompose!

On cross country day this year, I went to Coupland’s Bakery in New Brighton after school. I was desperately in need of a slushie to quench my thirst. I felt really disappointed and saddened to see that Coupland’s had plastic straws, and that there were no other options available. I decided to take my cup of slushie home and use our metal reusable straws instead. This motivated me to write a letter to Mr. Lance Coupland, the managing director of Coupland’s Bakeries Ltd.

I was determined to make a change so I started a petition at my school and in my neighbourhood. The petition asked for Coupland’s Bakeries to become more environmentally friendly. I collected over 100 signatures and posted the petition and letter to Mr. Coupland at the head office in Christchurch. I hope to encourage them to change their ways and think about their decisions and their use of plastic. My petition showed that lots of people do care for the environment and are wanting Coupland’s, and other companies, to improve.

Coupland’s could switch to paper straws as many businesses in the food industry have decided to stop using plastic straws. Some cities and countries have already banned plastic straws altogether. McDonald’s has started to change to paper straws and even the Queen of England has decided to stop using plastic straws at her royal estates! I visited Coupland’s Bakery and talked to some of the staff about their plastic straws. They said that Coca-Cola provides the stores with the straws for the slushie machines. They said that they are not very happy about how much plastic packaging Coca-Cola sends them and they would prefer paper straws in the stores.

I had the opportunity to speak to Kathy McClelland, Coupland’s Quality Assurance Coordinator. She informed me that they had been speaking to their marketing team because of my letter and petition. They are waiting for more information from their supplier about changing to paper straws. She also mentioned that they’re looking into changing the trays for the slices and biscuits to a #1 P.E.T. plastic so they could be recyclable (currently #6 E.P.S. ). The numbers that can be recycled in Christchurch are #1, #2 and #5. Kathy also said they have had lots of people emailing Coupland’s because they were unhappy about their use of unrecyclable plastics.

The New Zealand government announced earlier this year they would be banning single use plastics, including plastic straws. Unfortunately, they are phasing them out between 2022 and 2025. That’s a whole four years and 25,000 more plastic straws could end up in the ocean and on our beaches. To help make a positive change, Wellington Council is planning to buy paper straws to distribute around cafes, restaurants and bars, so they can trial being more environmentally friendly. This is a great step, and many businesses have now signed the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration.

Countdown’s general manager, Kiri Hannifin says, “Seeing images of turtles with straws coming out of their nostrils is confronting and although straws account for a small part of marine pollution, they cause significant harm.” It is awesome that so many companies are trying to improve and change their ways by signing this declaration.

Plastic straws are not sustainable for our environment. The production and irresponsible consumption of them needs to stop. Plastic straws also have a negative effect on life below water. I have made an impact by petitioning and contacting a local business to encourage positive change. There is hope for the future. Coupland’s have told me that they are trying to change, and Coca-Cola has signed the declaration to eliminate non-recyclable packaging. So hopefully they will both be bringing in recyclable options and paper straws. While it’s clear plastic straws have a bad influence on the environment, some people do need them so they can’t be completely banned at this point. After researching this issue, with the government’s announcement to phase out single use plastics, plus many businesses trying to become more environmentally aware, I feel almost positive He rā ki tua, better times are coming.
















Recently the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan, wreaking havoc over the country.

Formed in 1994, the Taliban were made up of former Afghan resistance fighters, known collectively as mujahedeen, who fought the invading Soviet forces in the 1980s.

Afghanistan’s new rulers, who banned women from playing all sport during their first rule in the 1990s, have indicated that women and girls will face restrictions in playing sport. 

This is devastating for sports women all over the country.

Looking for a solution, members of Afghanistan’s national women’s football team have fled across the border into Pakistan, a month after the Taliban swept back into power, officials say.

In total, more than 75 people crossed the northern border before travelling south to the city of Lahore where they were greeted with flower garlands. “We welcome Afghanistan Women football team they arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan.
The players were in possession of valid Afghanistan Passport, Pakistan visa and were received by Nouman Nadeem of PFF (Pakistan Football Federation),” Chaudhry tweeted on Wednesday, providing no further details.The girls who played for the under-14, under-16 and under-18 teams crossed the land border dressed in burqas, Haider said, before they later changed into headscarves. 

Can you imagine what it would be like if this same scenario happened in NZ?

Girls wouldn’t be able to play any sport! I don’t think I would be able to survive! This rule isn’t fair, because we should have all the same rights as boys. In some cases, we are much better than them at some sports.

In response, I think New Zealand should offer its safety for any sports women in Afghanistan and let them stay here and keep playing sport until the threat dies down. 

By Isla Martin

The Paralympics are an incredible show of perseverance and inspiration. Paralympians are all so talented, and they show that nothing can stop you if you try hard enough.

One such Para Athlete is Anastasia Pagonis. Anastasia is a blind 17-year old from America. She lost her sight when she was 14, as a result of an autoimmune disease, but that hasn’t stopped her. This year she qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Japan.

Anastasia is a swimmer, a good one too. Just the other day, on the 29 August, she won Gold in the S11 400-meter freestyle. She smashed the competition with a time of 4 minutes and 54.49 seconds – a full 10 seconds ahead of the second-fastest swimmer. That’s a new world record! She also achieved bronze in the 200 meter medley, and 4th in the 100m freestyle.

The whole way, Anastasia’s 2 million Tik Tok followers have been cheering her on. That’s right, on the social media platform Tik Tok, Anastasia—@anastasia_k_p on the app—has over 2 million followers! ( Me included! ) She posts frequently about her blindness and any questions her fans might have, as well as her Paralympic Journey. “I just want to teach people that this is blind, not just what you think is blind where you have to wear sunglasses and you can’t do anything,” she told Team USA. “This is blind.”

A couple of things I have learnt from Anastasia are, that you should always believe in yourself, and keep on trying even when the going gets tough. When Anastasia first lost her vision, she was extremely afraid of the water, and couldn’t even swim to the other side of the pool without crashing into a lane rope, or ending up in tears. But she persevered and look at her now! She is such a sweet, and inspiring person, and she hasn’t let her disability stop her from doing what she loves: making content.

Together with her guide dog Radar, she is entertaining millions and breaking world records! She is an inspiration to us all, and the only thing any para-athletes who need some encouragement need to do is scroll through her account.

Article Written by Isla Martin – Year 8 Aquinas College

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 30: Anastasia Pagonis of Team United States competes in Women’s 200m Individual Medley – SM11 on day 6 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

By Audrey Anna

Milk in plastic bottles is found at nearly every gas station, dairy or supermarket in New Zealand – basically around every corner. Single-use plastic is a threat to our environment. We have to become aware of our options and alternatives to Keep New Zealand Beautiful!

Altogether, the majority of our plastic milk bottles are going into recycling but when looking at the number of bottles not getting recycled, it can be quite scary.

(1) New Zealand consumes the 3rd highest amount of fresh white milk per capita in the world. (1) Roughly, two hundred, two-litre bottles of milk are sold every minute in New Zealand supermarkets – all of which are in plastic bottles or paper cartons.

(2) The estimated amount of plastic drink and milk bottles put in kiwi household rubbish bins every year, instead of recycling bins, is ninety-seven million. But, most kiwi’s don’t take the second to consider the consequences to the environment before placing them there. The World needs to consider ways to avoid wasting so much plastic, especially single-use, which simply just goes into landfills.

I surveyed fifty-one individuals from school asking about what milk their family is buying. I’ve found that forty- five (88.2%) of their families drink milk from plastic bottles and from these families, thirteen (28.9%) of them either do not or most likely don’t recycle their milk bottles. With the average family drinking a mean of four and a half litres per week, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, really if there are thirteen households, not recycling, around, thirty, two-litre bottles are not being recycled each week out of only those fifty-one families, in the community. This places a question of why we even made the change in the first place.

(3) In the mid sixty’s the world was introduced to plastic milk bottles. (4) New Zealand then made the change from glass bottles to paper and plastic in the nineties. (1) Nowadays, New Zealanders are consuming 400 million litres of milk each year.

(3) But they did have multiple reasons why they didn’t like glass bottles: milk would go bad within a day without refrigeration, hand-delivered bottles were heavy and needed to be returned for sterilization by the milkman and sometimes, with a little bit of clumsiness, glass bottles break. Then, of course, there are solutions to deal with problems.

With the brains and technology in today’s world, there are so many options to be thought of. If we work together, the problems we will face will be gone. The last glass milk bottles used was thirty years ago. Now we can make a system better and stronger.

In Hawkes Bay, there are multiple companies selling milk in glass bottles – just like the good old days. (5) This happened since Kirsten Wise, Napier Mayor, launched returnable and reusable glass milk bottles, in November 2020. One of which is Hohepa.

(5) Since 1957, Hohepa has provided employment and residential opportunities for those living with intellectual disabilities and now they have brought back milk in glass bottles. (6) A goal of Hohepa’s had been to move away from plastics to make it more sustainable, as they think the last bottles they had were inefficient. (6) They produce 500 bottles of milk a week, which sell at five different locations in Hawkes Bay. (6) They hope to start deliveries to homes in Hawkes Bay by the end of this year.

(7) Another company looking for a change to reduce the use of single-use plastic milk bottles in Hawke’s Bay is Origin Earth. (7) Origin Earth has teamed up with cafes, businesses and schools who are using large quantities of milk, ever since 2018. (7) So far they have around thirty Waste Reduction Partners. (7) They are changing their ways and fighting for a difference, just as we should.

We have opinions and alternatives that need to be considered. Single-use plastic is ruining our environment and becoming not an option

anymore. Milk bottles are not the only thing we need to change, they are just one of many. The world needs to take a second, to think.


1) https://www.fonterra.com/n








by Chloe Croft, Havelock North Intermediate

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of commercial fishing gear are being abandoned in our ocean. Commercial fishermen have been discarding their nets, pots, lines, traps, and other fishing gear which has been entangling or strangling our marine life and ruining marine habitats.

In July 2019, Greenpeace reported on research which found that fishing gear from New Zealand commercial fisheries was discovered on a remote Pacific Island, 5,000 kilometres away1. On this particular island, a large proportion of the plastic litter found was from commercial fishing companies, including gear like ropes and buoys, nets, and buckets. Some of these items were still stamped with New Zealand fishery logos.

This shows how far fishing gear pollution can travel with the ocean currents, and how fishing gear pollution has become a worldwide problem.  According to Elizabeth Hogan, the U.S. oceans and wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection – 640,000 tons of ghost gear is hauled out of the water each year. But some areas are more highly affected than others. In 2016 Elizabeth Hogan reported- One of the biggest areas affected is in Hawaii. “They remove close to 60 tons of gear every single year from the same spot. Since Hawaii doesn’t have a net-fishery, much of this ghost gear travels across the Pacific from those waters where nets are used.”2

The reason this is becoming more of a problem is that the fishing industry worldwide has begun to increasingly use plastic in nets, pots, lines, and ropes, as well as other commercial fishing equipment, over the last two decades. Plastic’s qualities such as durability, buoyancy, and cheapness make it ideal for fishing equipment. Sadly, these same qualities also make the lines and nets a deathly threat to marine life, and the communities around the world that depend on healthy, thriving marine life.

 A lot of Fishermen have been ignoring the cons to this, and have been continuously using these plastic nets. It has become such a problem that “Ghost gear” – meaning abandoned fishing gear- is estimated to make up 10% of ocean plastic pollution but forms the majority of large plastic littering the waters. A study found that as much as 70% (by weight) of macroplastics found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing-related.

In NZ there are very strict rules about fishing yet fishing gear is either being abandoned here or it is drifting from around the world onto our coasts, strangling our marine life. The sustainability manager for Sealord NZ thinks that discarded fishing gear is not a big problem in New Zealand but discussions with local Hawkes Bay fishermen have a different opinion. Wayne Bicknell of Legasea HB and a recreational fisherman have found that a lot of the fishing gear and other plastic is washing up on NZ shores. Which makes it a threat to seabirds. Wayne says that waste on the beach is mostly fishing nylon and bait packaging. 

Even though this may not be the outstanding issue in New Zealand right now, it will be soon enough.

A solution is obvious. We need to make nets, lines, pots, bait packaging, and any other fishing gear biodegradable. Globally, one tonne of new ghost fishing gear is lost or discarded in our oceans every minute. A report on  “Ghost Gear” shows that 6% of all nets used, 9% of all traps and 29% of all longlines remain as pollution at sea3. Not only does this old fishing waste go on killing marine life, but it also seriously damages underwater habitats.  If it was biodegradable it would have much less of an effect on the environment.

If making fishing gear biodegradable is too costly or just not a good solution, there are other possible solutions.

Sealord NZ’s current sustainable process includes using electronic sensors on their fishing nets to monitor the whereabouts of the gear and provide this data to Fisheries NZ. This is a good solution however it is not 100% reliable.

Hawkes Bay fisherman Karl Warr has a different approach to keeping our marine life safe. The current cage Karl uses is made of stainless steel and it lets under-sized fish swim out of the gaps. It’s a built-in filter for the catch, and it means that more than 90% of the catch is usable.

The survival rate of trawl-caught fish with a usual net is slim because they are hurt in the process of trawling by the compression in the net. Although the undersized fish are tossed back over the side, they usually float away and die. The cage Karl uses gives him greater control over the things he catches and also means that the fish that have been caught are in better condition and can be sold as higher quality for more money. This benefits Karl and the environment.4

If we take initiative in the next couple of years we can begin to eliminate this problem before it becomes dangerously big. Keep New Zealand Beautiful!



2. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/ghost-gear-haunts-world-s-oceans

3. https://www.ruraldelivery.net.nz/stories/Allstar-Fishing-s-Sustainable-Catch

4. https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/publication/ghost-gear-the-abandoned-fishing-nets-haunting-our-oceans/#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CGhost%20Gear%E2%80%9D%20report%20 shows,also%20seriously%20 damages%20underwater%20 habitats.

“You can eat something if you want!” A worker yells from the door of his tractor when he sees me staring at the bins upon bins of fruit. Lemons and mandarins, as befits the season.
These fruits will not be heading to supermarket shelves. The worker is dumping them.
The bins are emptied, yellow and orange fruits tumbling out onto the muddy ground. All of it simply wasted.

Text Box: Bins of mandarins waiting to be dumped. Behind these, there are many more bins of fruit. At the back of this Gisborne pack house, the sickly sweet stench hits me first.
This smell comes from piles of discarded fruit, left to lie in an empty space the size of a greenhouse.
It almost looks pretty from far away. Looking closer, it is revealed that most of these lemons and mandarins are fine. Sure, there is the odd fruit tainted by rot, but most are free from rot or broken skins. Yet they are simply dumped out the back, wasted.

The manager of this pack house says this is because these fruits do not meet the consumer standard.
“There are physiological reasons, like the breakdown of skins, and cosmetic damage… more damage than the grade standard allows.”
The fruit, while juicy on the inside, is imperfect on the outside, so cannot be sold on supermarket shelves.
Much of it can still be eaten – confirmed by the worker inviting me to eat some.
I do and find that most of the fruit is indeed perfectly edible.
Yet with these imperfections, they cannot be sold commercially. With no other options, they are dumped out back and left to fester in the sun. 

When you consider that agriculture and horticulture are two of the biggest industries in Gisborne, this problem could be much bigger than the bins of fruit discarded at this pack house.

Text Box: Bins of lemons to be dumped. A sustainable society is one where waste is avoided to all extents – including food waste.
In a country that is aiming for sustainability, there are solutions to this waste problem.
Of course, this fruit cannot simply be given away for free. The business, part of Gisborne’s biggest industries and employers, would suffer.
The solution comes in finding sustainable ways to use this imperfect fruit.
Other pack houses juice reject fruit if they have the means to.
However, this is evidently not an option for these discarded fruits.
There are programs, such as food donation services, which could serve as an avenue to reduce this waste as well as helping Gisborne people who are living in poverty.

In Tairāwhiti, approximately 50% of communities are considered highly deprived areas (Marsters, H., Shanthakumar, M., Fyfe, C., Borman, B. & Dayal, S., 2012, p. 19).
As with many places, poverty has long been a problem for the Gisborne community, with many struggling to make ends meet.
Poverty, in its absolute state, is defined as when “an individual does not have access to the amount of money necessary for meeting basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter,” defined by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Environmental issues and poverty often work hand in hand.
“We can’t lift people out of poverty if we don’t conserve the environment and natural resources they rely on. And we can’t protect the environment if we don’t address the needs of people in poverty,” states World Wildlife Foundation.
To preserve and protect the environment and achieve sustainability, we must also address the humanitarian issue of poverty. The first United Nations sustainable development goal is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere – so to address waste issues, poverty must also be considered.
With food waste, solutions can be ones that kill two birds with one stone: while reducing waste of fruits unable to be sold on supermarket shelves, poverty may also gain some relief.

The Salvation Army, a charity service in Gisborne, is a “Recycle centre,” according to Janenne Nicolson, a community ministries team leader for the Gisborne Salvation Army Corps.
The Salvation Army receives donations of everything from furniture to blankets made of wool from old sweaters, and finds someone who needs it.
Not to mention the Food Bank. Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Food Bank is available to whoever needs it.
“In an average week we would do 20 parcels,” Janenne tells me.
Food is made up of donations by the community: local bakeries and businesses donate leftover food, and through a relationship with Countdown people can buy food that is directly donated to the Salvation Army Food Bank.
Although the need for the service in Gisborne is no different to that in other communities she has been in, Janenne sees an increased need from seasonal workers.
“These people that, this week haven’t got the amount of money that they were expecting because of the bad weather, so there’s no money coming in, they don’t work those hours.
“And then, of course, you get their families, young kids.”
 The Food Bank sometimes gets fruit donated from people in the community, which sometimes results in volunteers going out to pick the fruit themselves.
As for citrus from pack houses that would otherwise be dumped, they have had some donations in the past.
“Usually it’s the growers themselves that will turn up with a truck out the back.”
The Salvation Army is “a hand up, not a handout,” meaning that their services are for those that need it.
The Food Bank is not a source of ‘free food’, it is somewhere for people to go if they need help.
Therefore it is not detrimental to a business to donate.
If some reject fruit that would otherwise be dumped was sent to the Salvation Army Food Bank or other food donation services in Gisborne, it would reduce the quantities of fruit wasted while contributing to the reduction of poverty within the region.

For pack houses in Gisborne that discard reject fruit, creating unnecessary waste, solutions to find more sustainable things to do with fruit that does not meet the consumer-grade standard need only be looked for.

A scheduled flight from Sudan to Qatar was forced to return because of a different passenger decided to take a fight, little cat.

The ferocious feline, who had been hiding in the cockpit, decided to attack the pilots and crew.

After struggling to contain the cat, it was decided to turn around the Boeing 737 back to Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

It is not known how the turbulent tabby got onto the plane, but it is suspected it sneaked onboard while the jet was in a hangar overnight.

There were no injuries, and it isn’t known what happened to the cantankerous cat afterwards.

By Nat Jarden

Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, officially increases 86cm (about the length of a cricket bat) in height.

This is slightly more than Nepal’s previous measurement and about four meters higher than China’s.

The mountain sits on the border of these two countries, who agreed on the new height at the end of last year.

To measure it, last year, a Nepalese team set up a satellite navigation marker on Everest’s peak to gauge its exact position via GPS satellites.

A Chinese team undertook a similar mission this spring, though it used the Chinese-made Beidou constellation of navigation satellites, along with other equipment.

I Martin – Aquinas College

At Matamata Intermediate we were focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals.

These goals are the guidelines set by the United Nations to make our planet more sustainable. We decided to focus on goal 8, which is the goal to have decent work and economic growth. Our teachers showed us the SDGs and helped us to follow the inquiry process. We went to workshops that were topics about different SDGs such as No poverty, Zero hunger and Gender equality, we went to different classes for the workshops and the teachers there did different tasks so we could see what was happening around the world. This is what sparked our minds to start this inquiry. 

We are wanting to inform Kiwi Kids that modern slavery is still going on around the world and thousands of people are effected by it. With the help of our classmates (Indie & Carter), we created this ad in the hope to tell the world about the effects of slavery. 

Everybody should try and help raise awareness about this and come up with a plan, try not to buy products that were produced under free labour. But what if you dont know what slavery is, begin a learning pathway as to why slavery is bad and why we should eradicate it from the earth. As a whanau come up with solutions and see what you can think of.

We are the next generation that is why we should make our time count. We can solve modern slavery which can then get us on the road of world peace. If we get rid of it, it can help us abolish poverty. NZ has made a lot of great accomplishments over the years and now it’s our turn as a new generation to achieve a goal. Get out there kiwi kids make us proud!