A Big Bright Future?

Koia Teinakore’s journey to rethink rubbish all started in 2014, with a bus driving assignment to the Waitakere Transfer Station. Having dropped his passengers off for a workshop at the Learning Centre there, he decided to sit in with them, rather than sit in the bus. The workshop got Koia thinking about his own family’s rubbish, and woke him up to what needed to change.

After taking a further three busloads out to the centre, Koia was hooked. “My partner and her Kohanga Reo colleagues attended one of the workshops, and when we got home we started thinking differently about how we needed to get it right, to look after Papatūānuku for our tamariki and mokopuna”, says Koia.

After the workshops, Koia started monitoring what was going into the rubbish at home and taking small steps, like making bins for his children to keep in their bedrooms, so they could separate their own rubbish before putting it into the family bins. Over time, his enthusiasm rubbed off, and now his whole family is on board; at home, in their workplaces and helping out on waste stations at community events.

Koia’s passion for reducing waste eventually led to a paid role at MEFS ME Family Services, through which he’s been able to share his learnings with the wider Māngere/Ōtāhuhu communities. A month into the job, he attended a bokashi workshop, and this got him thinking about his family’s food waste. “If I’m going to be teaching people this, I’m going to have to start practicing what I’m preaching”, he decided.

Managing his food waste at home led to a new-found passion for gardening. When his bokashi bins are full, Koia now digs the food waste into his garden, along with all of his family’s paper and cardboard waste. This enables him to build beautiful soil for growing food for his family, and has helped him to teach his mokopuna where food really comes from.

Change does take a bit of work, and Koia believes “it didn’t come overnight- it took a good three years for everything to go right”. The results speak for themselves though- in those first few years, Koia’s family of eight went from putting out five full black bags of rubbish a week to just one or two bags.

These days, Koia looks after Te Puna Oranga- the community garden and resource recovery space at ME Family Services. The space is open to the community and provides hands-on learning opportunities for anyone who is interested in finding ways to re-use “rubbish” as a resource. It’s a real-life demonstration of what can be done in our own homes and gardens.

Koia is just as passionate as ever about his work. “I do it because I care about the future of my mokopuna and want to make sure that they’ll have the knowledge to carry the kaupapa on”, says Koia. He believes that the Covid situation is a big opportunity for families to start growing food as a way to eat healthy, delicious kai and to save money.

“When we were younger we were told that there was a big bright future ahead. But in my own mind, I’m not sure there’s going to be a big bright future unless people change their attitudes and stop trashing the environment”. He doesn’t claim to be an expert, but says he is “willing to learn every day. I do what works, as nature has taken care of itself since Creation and always will”.

he hi ake ana te atakura...he tio, he huka he hou hunga…
"tihei mauri ora"