Category Archives: Alumni

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.




The Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management celebrates 10 years

On Friday 12 July the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management celebrated its ten year-anniversary at Riccarton House.

Attendees included champions from a decade ago, Waterways members and core staff, members of the Waterways Advisory Committee, other external stakeholders plus past and current students. Milestones and achievements noted include the development of five Water Resource Management (WRM) undergraduate courses, and the WRM PG Diploma, Masters and PhD qualifications. Ninety-nine WRM postgraduates have graduated, including 5 PhDs. More generally Waterways has overcome some of the logistical challenges of delivering a teaching and research centre across two very different universities.

The celebration coincided with Jenny Webster-Brown’s last day as Waterways Director, and without exception guest speakers noted Jenny’s hard work and dedication with deep gratitude and appreciation.

Current and past Waterways staff

Professor Jenny Webster-Brown

David Painter, Jenny Webster-Brown and John Bright

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Writing your Will is perhaps one of the easiest things to put off, yet it’s also one of the easiest documents to put in place. Since Wills typically protect those closest to us – telling everyone what should happen to our money, possessions and property after we die – they deserve to be prioritised and not left at the bottom of the to-do list.

According to Sorted, less than half of adults in NZ have a Will, which means some of us could be leaving our families with a huge mess when we pass away. Writing a Will shows responsibility, it means you are taking control of your life and thinking long-term about your family and loved ones.

The UC Foundation (the charitable arm of the University) recognises the importance of Wills and has recently partnered with Justly to provide a fee-free Will writing service for all UC staff. Yep, you read that correctly, this service will be free of charge – no strings, no hidden conditions, and best of all, your Will can be written from the comfort of your own home whenever it suits you.

If you think you don’t need a Will because joint property will go to your partner and kids anyway, you may want to reconsider your position. It can get even more complicated when you’ve had multiple relationships throughout your life, as often happens in our modern day. Here are a few facts worth knowing:

  • When you get married, the Will you wrote before marriage is no longer valid.
  • If you die without a Will, the government will use a formula to divide up your assets.
  • The last Will you signed – even if it’s out of date – will be the one used if you die.
  • Wills are not just about what you leave to people – they can also identify the person you want to look after your children and/or who you want to disinherit.
  • If you die intestate (without a Will) the people you care about most may not be looked after. It often takes a long time and a lot of money to resolve matters, causing extra distress for your loved ones during their time of grief.
  • The ability to make charitable gifts is a good reason to have a Will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests.

To get started writing your free Will just click here under the ‘Online Will-writing section’.

If you need a little more convincing…please read on.

Most people use excuses like: making a Will is too complicated, too expensive, I haven’t got anything, I don’t have time, I’ll do it when I get a better job, I’ll do it when I’m married or buy a house… In reality, the right time to get a Will is as soon as you turn 18!

Wills are not just for the rich and wealthy. Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a Will ensures that whatever personal belongings and assets you do have will go to family and/or the beneficiaries you designate.

Everyone should have a Will, but it’s especially important if you have children. A Will ensures that you get to choose your children’s legal guardian should you die before your children are of legal adult age. Without a Will, a court makes these decisions on your behalf, among others, through a lengthy and often stressful process called probate. Few people plan to die in the near future, but if you die suddenly without a Will, you will inadvertently subject your family and loved ones to unnecessary confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.

To read more about Justly feel free to click here, or to find peace of mind, do the right thing and get started with your own Will click here.

Feel free to also read on about the UC Foundation and how it provides opportunities for individuals and organisations to support the educational mission of the university through donations, bequests, sponsorships and partnerships.

Alternatively, email or call 03 369 5530 for a chat.

Chronicle Autumn/Winter 2019

Chronicle is out! It’s a collection of some of the best stories of the year to date in a beautiful package with Type-C killer whales on the cover (thank you Regina Eisert/TPAonIce)!

Read it online here or grab a copy from the stands around campus.

Chronicle is one of the ways we keep our alumni, stakeholders and schools informed and inspired. It covers a diverse range of topics from the colleges and across the university, with everything from sex ed for the #metoo generation to motorsport to shape-changing titanium oxide – and much more.

Thank you to everyone who contributed. Please direct any feedback to