Category Archives: Alumni

Westpac Champion Business Awards: Winners Announced

There was plenty of success for UC alumni at last night’s Westpac Champion Business Awards, run by Champion Canterbury Ltd.

The annual awards ceremony has been running since 2003 and has evolved into one of the largest business awards ceremonies in Aotearoa New Zealand. The awards recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and success of businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Canterbury.

Congratulations to all the winners, including the following UC alumni:

  • Medsalv – Oliver Hunt
  • Christchurch Engine Centre – Jonas Aust and Ben Bainbury
  • Taska Prosthetic – Jamie Carins
  • Ethique – Brianne West
  • The New Zealand Merino Company Limited – John Brackenridge
  • Canterbury District Health Board – John Wood and David Meates
  • Anton Matthews (Fush) – Anton Matthews
  • Special Commendation – Bruce Irvine

We would also like to acknowledge our UC alumni who were chosen as finalists:

  • ENGEO – Greg Martin
  • Berkano Foods – Britteny Bryan
  • Totalspan North Canterbury – operated by Jamie and Ellen Petersen under Petersen Construction Ltd
  • Jeuneora – Meg Falconer
  • Trees for Canterbury – Tim Jenkins
  • Can Do Canterbury – Kathryn Jones

 

Women of Influence 2019 Finalists

The Women of Influence New Zealand programme, presented by Stuff and Westpac, recognises and celebrates women who make a difference in the lives of everyday New Zealanders.

The awards are a celebration of the commitment women across the country are making by devoting their time, passion and energy to creating real change in communities and industries. By using their influence to achieve great things, they are making an important contribution to the bold and diverse future of New Zealand and the awards night is held to highlight their success.

The following finalists are UC alumnae that we are proud to see recognised as high calibre leaders in their chosen fields:

  • Anne-Marie Brady
  • Brianne West
  • Gabrielle Huria
  • Gisella Carr
  • Laura Robinson
  • Leanne Crozier
  • Melanie Mark-Shadbolt
  • Michelle Sharp
  • Ruth Money

Congratulations to all finalists on this significant achievement.

Celebrating Canterbury Distinguished Professor Roy Kerr

Following his election to the Royal Society (UK) earlier this year, UC’s Canterbury Distinguished Professor Roy Kerr was formally admitted as a Royal Society Fellow on 12 July.

Canterbury Distinguished Professor Kerr signing the admissions book
Canterbury Distinguished Professor Kerr shaking hands with Royal Society President , Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

 

Photos courtesy of The Royal Society (UK)

Licence CC BY 4.0 

UC alumna Brianne West and Ethique win Exporter of the Year award

Kiwi brand Ethique has won  Exporter of the Year to the USA (medium business) at the recent 2019 AmCham-DHL Success & Innovation Awards.

Ethique, founded by UC Science alumna Brianne West, is an award-winning international beauty brand. They create environment-friendly shampoo and conditioner bars and have been saving millions of plastic bottles from heading to landfill.

The awards are run by the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand and celebrate success and innovation for companies doing business with the USA.

Ethique is also a finalist at the upcoming 2019 Westpac Champion Business Awards. 

Brianne West, founder of Ethique

UC Alumni founds ethical soical enterprise

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight! Over the next two weeks, UC Sustainability is sharing stories of people connected to UC who are working to make the world a fairer place. Sneha Pulapaka graduated from UC in 2017 and has since started a social enterprise called The Native Loom which works with marginal artisan, weavers and tailors in rural South India. We recently caught up with her to learn more about what her business does, and the impact it is having on a community across the world.

You’re UC Alumni! What did you study during your time at UC?

Yes I am proudly UC alumni, I spent one of my best years at UC. I enrolled into course at School of Health Sciences at UC. I completed my Post-Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences, with an endorsement in Health Information Management from University of Canterbury.

My time at UC was full of new experiences, meeting people and acquiring some entrepreneurial skills.

 Since graduating, you’ve founded your own social enterprise, The Native Loom. When and where did this story begin?The earliest memory of sustainable textiles is from my childhood. As children, my sister and I wore handmade clothes and I remember my mother repurposed her old cotton sarees as baby clothes, nappies and baby quilts for both of us. The texture of the fabric was so soft and even after years it didn’t tarnish. While in college, I had this idea of repurposing an old dress of mine into new, so I got crafty and sew some coloured sequins. A few years ago, I visited some artisan clusters within rural South India and learnt more about how they made textiles. I was fascinated by the fact that all these textiles were actually woven by a person on a hand loom, which is very labour intensive. The process involves sourcing sustainable cotton, followed by preparing the yarn, dyeing the yarn and then weaving it over the hand loom. This process summarises the most sustainable way a piece of textile can be made.

I learnt that it takes 10 days for a weaver to weave a saree that is around 6 yards. Hand loom weaving skills are traditional skills, practised from generations. Within a family of artisans, you will see that all members participate in textile production process. Unfortunately, these skills are at the verge of extinction as there are no young people ready to learn the traditional textile making skills. And also, the fact that artisan communities need to compete with power loom is what drove me to help these artisan communities and The Native Loom was born.

Tell us about the ethos behind your business.

“People, Planet and Culture”

We are about all of these things: ethically made textiles, empowering artisan communities and caring for our planet through eco-friendly products. At The Native Loom, we believe our choices matter so we have carefully curated our products not just because they are natural or organic and ethical but because the people and the stories behind them benefit directly from our support, both through purchase of the products and through the giving of our profits back to these communities and also projects here in New Zealand. Our actions preserve the planet, empower the lives of artisan communities and provides possibilities to future generations.

What products are being made, and by whom?

We currently produce natural fibre based textile products. Our collections include homewares such as fruit and veggie produce bags, reusable tea bags, accessories such as totes, scarves and earrings.All products are designed here in New Zealand and made in India. Our artisan groups comprise of women from marginalized communities, they are part of cooperatives/self-help groups based in Southern India. The artisans work with only GOTS certified organic cotton.

We’d love you to share any key learnings you’ve had over the last year.

Sustainability is not a one off, it is a gradual process that becomes a way of living eventually. We consciously need to take notice of how we produce and consume together as a community and it’s no different for us as a social enterprise. Producing sustainable textiles is just part of what we do as a social enterprise. Building communities that thrive is our vision.Key Learnings:

  • Over the last year we had some leftover fabric post our production and we didn’t want to waste so we repurposed them as product tags, accessories like earrings, necklace, hair ties etc. We saved around 9 kgs of textile from going into landfills. Solutions are all around us and we just need to take a close look.
  • As a social enterprise based out in New Zealand and working with artisans from another country, it can be very overwhelming at times. The Native Loom is all about collaboration and communication plays a key factor in this process. We take measures to keep open communication with our artisan groups. It is very important that we hear them out first and how they plan to approach things. So we learn together and grow.
  • Over the last year we were able to empower 14 women from our partner groups in achieving fair wages and safe working conditions. We were able to eliminate the use of over 1,435 single use plastic bags and saved over 1,000 liters of water. We also donated our profits to support native New Zealand tree planting through the Million Meters Streams Project here in Aotearoa.

Where to next for The Native Loom? 

  1. Ethical: Our plan over the next three years is to provide a platform for the weaver and artisan communities through a digital interface. We are also working on reaching more artisan clusters that ensure safe working conditions and fair wages.
  2. Ecological: We plan to support more native tree planting projects and other environmental initiatives within New Zealand and also in Southern India.
  3. Empowering: We plan to empower women artisans with education and entrepreneurial skill training so they can use the digital interface (that we plan to develop) with confidence. Also, we plan to launch artisan and weaver well-being programs over the next two years that include health and nutrition.

Want to learn more about Sneha and The Native Loom’s story? Catch her at our Fair Trade Fair on Wednesday 14 August, 11am – 1pm in Haere-roa. We’ll be showcasing the incredible suppliers that make our Fair Trade University possible, and celebrate the impact they are having on communities around the world. See the Facebook event here for all the details.

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. This is part of our contribution to Fairtrade Fortnight, where we encourage our UC community to get involved and support the empowerment of producers overseas. For more information on the fair trade movement, see the Fairtrade NZ website.