Tag Archives: Student contributions

O la’u gagana, o lo’u fa’asinomaga – Helleniga Arona

O la’u gagana, o lo’u fa’asinomaga.

Being a young woman born and raised in the islands of Samoa, I often hear the saying ‘U’u mau i lau gagana’. To simply translate, it means hold firmly onto your language. A quote well memorised by almost every Samoan, despite their place of birth, or whether or not they are considered full Samoan. Being told to firmly hold onto your language highlighted its significance. I was taught and reminded so frequently that losing my language would be the equivalent of losing my name. It contributes greatly to my identity just as much as my name.

My journey leading us to New Zealand accentuates how vital it was that we held onto our language. I was born and spent the first seven years of my life in Western Samoa, then moved to American Samoa for an additional seven years. This month also marks the seventh year since my family and I migrated to New Zealand. Throughout our entire journey, there were two things we always seemed to take with us everywhere; our surnames and our language. Living amongst a community that envies people who spoke a second language. I quickly developed a sense of gratitude that my parents ensured our firm connection to our roots were strongly maintained. We had the luxury of being born and raised in both islands and migrated here mid-teen-years. This indicated that I lived in the islands of Samoa long enough to experience the struggle in their daily lives. In addition, we attended schools in American Samoa long enough to understand a different system and how the culture varies between the two islands. Then lastly moved to New Zealand, a place that guaranteed us better education and life opportunities. All with our values, culture and language still intact.

Living in Christchurch currently, although allows me less opportunities to speak my first language, it still gives me an extra uniqueness that not many are fortunate to have. Seeing the youth in New Zealand resort to Samoan classes in hopes of learning to speak Samoan fluently, is a perception that strengthened my appreciation of my gagana. Na ‘ou u’u mau i la’u gagana, auā o lo’u fa’asinomaga lea.

Helleniga Arona

Sustainability – But At Home

What has the Sustainability Office been getting up to over the lockdown? Apart from wishing we were in Waiutuutu Community Garden of course…

Sustainability at Home intro post

We’ve been running weekly challenges with  community, to share your tips and tricks for living a sustainable life – but from home! We’ve had a heap of fun and learnt a lot from one another along the way. We’d like to share our favourite learnings with the rest of UC in the hope it’ll inspire some of you to do the same.

Want to make Feijoa Fizz from leftover fruit peels? Learn to make homemade Apple Cider Vinegar? Go on a virtual garden tour and learn how to dry herbs? Try a DIY makeup remover? Learn how to shop second hand like a pro (and on a student budget)? Or maybe you’re after some book recommendations? Read on, and let our wonderful sustainable students and staff show you how they’ve been living a little lighter these past few weeks.

Week One: Low Waste Life @ Home! For Week One, we asked our community to share with us how they’ve been reducing their waste footprint at home. Here’s some of our favourite low waste life hacks! For the full run down and more details, see our Week one blog here.


Heather sewing her own produce bags

Lizzy made DIY sugar wax and up-cycled old towels into cleaning rags 

Nic blew us away by transforming her family’s neglected compost bin into a thing of wonder (complete with a diagram for the fridge!)

Helena showed us to make Apple Cider Vinegar with leftover apple cores – genius (and cheap!)

Week Two: Sustainable Recipes @ Home! We noticed that in Week One, we received a lot of amazing low waste recipes – and we wanted to learn more! So, for Week Two, we asked our community to share with us their favourite Sustainable Recipes. Enjoy (and we dare you not to feel hungry). For the full recipe lists and photos, see Week Two’s blog here. It’s definitely worth checking out for some serious cooking and creating inspiration!


Imogen made jam from the previously mysterious Strawberry Tree! (Her recipe also featured in the recent Environment issue of Canta Magazine)

Holly Feijoa Fizz

Holly made Feijoa Fizz from leftover fruit peels – YUM!

Abby made homemade bagels and topped them with vegan pesto made from Waiutuutu  garden greens!

Helena made a Rosemary Hair Rinse from foraged Rosemary 

Week Three: Iso Garden Tours! For Week Three, we moved our challenge outdoors and asked our community to take us on a Virtual Garden Tour! We had so much fun, and really did feel like we’d visited your place for a cup of tea. To be taken on the same experience, check out Week Three’s blog here!

Iso Garden Tours Week Three

Chantelle showed us around her family’s garden – we loved meeting her dad’s worms!

A peak into Fiona’s dreamy outdoor bath and toilet area on her family’s permaculture farm 

Jessica Gosling 2

Jessica showed us her epic Iso Garden Transformation (+ a great pesto recipe)

And we got to see where Lucy has been spending her time in lockdown, plus meet Kimchi the cat!

Week Four: Join the Fashion Revolution! Week Four fell during the global Fashion Revolution Week, and we celebrated by asking our community to share with us how they are taking part. This week we wanted to see how our students and staff were supporting slow, ethical, second hand and fair fashion – and boy they did not disappoint. For the full run down, see Week Four’s blog here.

Week Four Fashion Revolution -2

Ella blew us away with her handmade creations over lockdown: she made a winter coat from a old paint mat, shoes from an old handbag and shoelaces, and taught herself to knit a singlet!

Ngaire and Nuha showing us how to rock second hand clothes like a boss!

Imogen showing us her upcycled threads, and her top and shorts she made from bedsheets and tablecloths!


Naomi hand quilted this beautiful jacket during lockdown

Week Five: Reflections! For our final challenge, we asked our community to take a step back and reflect on their lockdown learnings over the past weeks. For the full stories, see our Week Five blog here.

Week 5 reflect

Varvara shared some beautiful words and her favourite poem that has resonated with her during this time

Plus, some great lockdown reading recommendations!

And Eleanor shared this beautiful video – it’ll give you goosebumps!

Hopefully these tips and tricks from our wonderful UC students and staff will give you a little inspiration and even a new challenge as we face this next chapter. Are you keen to try any of these recipes or ideas? Let us know in the comments below. We’re off to make Holly’s Feijoa Fizz!

Thanks for coming on this journey with us.


Tari Toitū te Taiao | UC Sustainability Office

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Sustainable Students Blog: Refill not Landfill

Ever seen an image like the one below and gotten mad eco-anxiety?

Ever wondered how you can reduce your own waste (to avoid images like above) but don’t know where to start?

This new series of blogs written by uni students for uni students will tackle this issue, to make being an eco-warrior easier, cheaper, and less time-consuming!


We all know that drinking water is ESSENTIAL to our health, particularly concentration while in lectures or smashing out those assignments. And with images of plastic bottles washing up on our beaches, we know it’s time to STOP being a part of this problem.

We reckon the easiest way to start off your eco-warrior journey is to bring your own bottle to uni, and be a part of the Refill not Landfill movement!

Benefits: save so much money (how expensive is bottled water to buy though), stay hydrated, save the world, feel like a super hero… the list goes on.

Use: any bottle you already own and keep reusing it! Make sure you clean it regularly and if it’s a bit manky, chuck a few grains of uncooked rice in the bottle with a tiny bit of water and shake around – it’s pretty magic at removing the scungy bits.

How: You’ll be surprised at how many water fountains and refill stations we have on our campus! In fact, UC Sustainability is teaming up with RefillNZ to bring you some snazzy posters showing exactly where to find them, so you’re never caught dehydrated (or having to use a single use bottle) again!



Challenge yourself this month to bring your drink bottle every day, everywhere you go.

Keep an eye for our next sustainable student bog, for more tips on how to be a super savvy eco-warrior!

Written by Helena Ruffell, see more of her sustainable student life hacks on Instagram: @eatsleepsustain

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected and follow us on FacebookInstagram or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop about campus sustainability.