Matariki, Māori New Year takes place 25 – 29 June. It’s a time to celebrate new life and new beginnings, remember those who’ve passed and to plan for the future. It is a time to spend with whānau and friends, and enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.
Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars that rises around mid-winter. It is when crops were harvested and seafood, birds and crops were preserved for winter.
Varvara Sidorenko – Community Gardener, Op Shop Enthusiast, President of UC DigSoc and Eco Volunteer
This year, we’re proud to be profiling students and staff who we believe are contributing to the culture of sustainability at UC. We are running this campaign in the lead up to the 2019 UC Sustainability Awards, so get thinking about who you’ll be nominating this year! Nominations for the Awards are open from the 5 – 31 August.
In the meantime, read on and enjoy our first Sustainability Champion profile from the wonderful Varvara – our passionate Community Gardener, Op Shop enthusiast, Eco Volunteer and President of UC DigSoc (among many other great things!).
Tell us about yourself. This year I am finishing off my BA in Political Science and Economics. I speak passable German and fluent Russian. I love art, Lord of the Rings, and really awful indie films. I am really passionate about community engagement, and the power of local initiatives to make the world more sustainable.
Tell us how you became involved with sustainability at UC. To be honest I don’t quite remember. I think it was mostly me showing up to workshops, events and the campus community gardens. I got to know quite a few people in the sustainability network, and essentially hung out at various things. I never thought of myself as the volunteering kind of person, but I think that if you find a cause you care about you’ll be surprised by how much time you can and want to give.
What has been a sustainability project that has meant a lot to you?I think seeing the Dovedale Community garden grow over the past two years from a relatively unused space to a thriving community garden. Though I had little to do with the transformation, it has still been incredible to see how much some willpower and commitment can do. Two of the longstanding community gardeners, Jane and Michael, have put so much time, love and effort into Dovedale. They have made it a really inspiring place to be and have been amazing positive role models for all of us who come along.
What is something that has made you feel really proud and a part of UC? Meeting some of the staff who are doing amazing things for sustainability behind the scenes. Many of them do relatively thankless jobs to keep the campus running and to make it a nice place to be, and seeing their positivity and enthusiasm is really, really touching.
Where to next for you? My next mission is to start up and/or participate in sustainability projects at my work. I think in the future, businesses will be held to much higher ethical and environmental standards, and I hope to help the company I work for to prepare for these new challenges.
Fire and Emergency broke ground on 6 June on a new facility on Creyke Road, beside the UC Engineering precinct which includes the Fire Lab.
The Fire Station and Fire Engineering Educational Training Facility will be a welcome addition to students and staff who will benefit from the hands-on practical learning and knowledge sharing.
Master’s student Vivian Ye is specialising in fire engineering. She participated in two summer research projects funded by Fire and Emergency – in 2017 she worked on “understanding and improving fire ventilation tactics in New Zealand” and in 2018 she investigated “existing methodologies for estimating fire flow requirements both domestically and internationally”.
“The two research projects were financially supported by Fire and Emergency, which provided a great opportunity for me to contribute to on-going practical issues,” says Vivian.