The Gingerbread Horse Project

  Ella Wylie from Myross Bush, aged 11,
 making gingerbread horses for the good cause of
 Southland Riding for the Disabled (RDA). 

"Ella who is the  daughter of one of our volunteers, Stuart Wylie,  has been doing a project to raise funds for Southland Riding for the Disabled ( RDA)  making gingerbread horses," RDA president Dot Muir says." All our 85 riders who come along weekly, along with the volunteers and of course the horses, say thank you to Ella for her initiative."

" I thought it would be cool to start making the horses and I have been doing it for two years now," Ella says. " I sold them at school or to friends  for $1 last year and $2 this year."

They set up a routine this year with Ella’s mother helping with the mixture and baking on Saturday mornings and Ella decorating them in the afternoon. RDA provides special bags and stickers with information so buyers have their awareness raised about RDA .

Finished gingerbread horses

"Ella put a lot of time and effort in to her project and got a lot out of it herself, with it being a great fundraiser, " Ella’s father Stuart Wylie says." Last year she made over $200 and this year $216."

" Teachers and others who bought them said they were very nice and the best gingerbread horses they have ever tasted," Ella says. "The money raised was used for gear for the students who attend RDA and I hope I have inspired others to get creative next year."

"The Wylie family have also donated two fabulous horses to our program, "Muir says." Many people in our community help as volunteers and fundraising as Ella has done and we are thrilled with their support ".

Inspiring movie maker

Co-producer of the movie 2 Degrees, Ange Palmer from Nelson, contemplates climate change as ' The elephant in the room' at the showing of her film in Invercargill  (10 Aug)

The documentary movie 2 Degrees took six years of Ange Palmer's life to make with co- producer, Australian resident, Jeff Canin, as they travelled and filmed in 15 countries, covering the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen  in 2009 alongside community and individuals' responses to this threat to the planet.

The film stresses the changes to the oceans with acidification and the need to move away from fossil fuels, coal and gas, to renewables.

"Our emphasis is on climate justice with the wealthy  world having an historical debt to pay," she says. "We captured the stories of how people who contribute the least to climate change, are being affected the most."

The struggle of the community of Port Augusta in South Australia to change from coal to solar thermal, driven by passionate local activist, Joy Baluch, was very telling. Her energy and passion around moving their community, using people power,  towards renewables, and her death in 2013 while fighting for this change, inspired Palmer.

"While making the movie I was totally immersed in climate change and with the whole process of the logistical and financial challenges, " she says. "In the Congo I was extremely distressed by the level of poverty and I can get dragged in to the doom and gloom of climate change."

"I found I need positivity and joy  in the message  and I need to acknowledge that we all have a part to play," Palmer says. "People are realising that we can all do the best we can in our personal and work lives  without trying to  change others , but it will rub off on other people when they see our joy in what we are doing."

Palmer is touring with the documentary nationally at present, with a launch in Sydney in two weeks before it goes out to global audiences.

"Go with your passions and act on them," she says." Remember there is not one solution to climate change and we are all part of the solution."

Te Rere planting day July 2014

SIT year two student Sean McKenna and
volunteer Melissa Wilson planting at Te Rere  

Planting over 500 native trees was the main aim for the day at Te Rere  as a large group of enthusiastic students from Environmental Management courses at Otago University and Southern Institute of Technology joined others to complete the task. Staff from Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird members and volunteers were keen to improve the environment for the endangered yellow eyed penguins. Total group numbers of over 50 made short work of the task in mild, calm conditions with some sun encouraging everyone.

Part-time caretaker Fergus Sutherland talked about the history of the reserve and how the adjacent farmer supported the establishment of a reserve once they realised the vulnerable state of this penguin species. Southland Forest and Bird began planting the grass covered paddocks, adjacent to the sea coast, with natives so the penguins had access to nesting sites as they are very private birds and don't appreciate neighbours. This re-vegetation has continued with annual plantings for about 27 years with a disastrous fire in 1995 which destroyed much of the well-established cover and even burning birds which were nesting at the time. However the vegetation recovered remarkably well and about 50 penguin pairs are continuing to use this 70 hectare reserve, out of about 500 breeding pairs on the south eastern coast of the South Island.

"This is an ambitious revegetation project for not only protecting the yellow eyed penguin but it also provides habitat for other native species such as fernbirds, falcons, tui, bellbirds and fantails," Sutherland said. "Now a larger area of native plantings provide a safe place for animals, the little blue penguin, sea lions and seals have taken up residence along with about 12 titi or muttonbirds using the reserve site  for landing and even nesting, meaning hopefully later they will breed here which is exciting."

Forest and Bird's  Brian Rance coordinated the working bee with plants sourced from Pukerau Nursery, with delivery by owner Arne Cleland. They shared their expertise about how to dig, plant and protect the young trees with  a  felt blanket to keep down the competing weeds along with plastic sleeves supported by bamboo which ensures hares and deer have less chance to browse.

With the work completed in the early afternoon and lunch devoured, the remaining afternoon time was spent looking around the reserve and helping check traps for stoats, rats and possums which continue to impact the penguins and in particular the juveniles. There was agreement that it had been a very satisfying day, making a difference for an endangered bird.

Upcycled fashion parade uplifting

Kassandra Rose Rattrie,
 winner of the Invercargill Environment Centre's
 Upcycled fashion show

It was an evening of anticipation and excitement at Invercargill Environment Centre's second annual Upcycled fashion show held at the Workingmen's Club on 20 June. 2014

Over 200 people joined in the fun and  banter led by inimitable compere Gerry Forde while the judges, Busting Waste columnist Carolyn Dean,  Environment Southland Councillor Marion Miller and Venture Southland's Steve Canny were challenged to make decisions about possible prize winners from  the high standard of Upcycled entries.

As well as the competition Upcycled section which encouraged people to take ready- made garments and turn them in to high fashion statements, there was the opportunity for second hand clothing shops to parade a variety of restyled garments straight from their racks. This went down a treat with the audience who were obviously on the lookout for bargains as they expressed delight at the possibility of purchasing from stalls which were selling the fashion garments, many featuring sought after labels.

The restyled section was followed by a delicious supper with raffle sales helping boost the fundraising effort, thanks to generous sponsorship from a variety of Invercargill businesses.

 "We had a very difficult task deciding the winners because the standard of the garments was so high this year," judge Dean says. "Attention to detail, very interesting accessories and trims, intriguing colour combinations  and the variety of materials used from old suitcases to ties, blankets, crochet table cloths, mosquito nets and a world map, all made for interesting questions and answers as we interviewed   the designers prior to the show and then finalised judging as models displayed outfits on the cat walk."

"My winning design involves  two suitcases which I had had for two years but as I realised I couldn't afford to travel, I cut them up for the event," Southern Institute Of Technology second year Fashion Design course student Kassandra Rose Rattrie says. "I used everything I could from the suitcases as trims on the pants, jacket, bodice and hat including the locks, handle, labels and zips, having fun on the way."

The Environment Centre coordinator and main organiser of the event , Clair Leith, was delighted with the result after all her hard work in the lead up to the second Upcycled fundraising night with profits going to help with the continuing work of the centre in Glengarry Crescent. Staff and volunteers on the night agreed that the atmosphere created by the stall holders, Restyled and Upcycled entrants along with the enthusiastic audience means that a third one is definitely a strong possibility.


Overall Upcycled Winner Kassandra Rose Rattrie

Runner Up Sharleen Kiff

Best use of recycled materials Kay Mortimer

Daywear Brenda Gill

Best Collection Sharleen Kiff

Best construction Kassandra Rose Rattrie

Vintage Vanessa Atkinson

Best accessory Rachael Goldsmith

Mossburn garden tidy up

(Left back)- Lily Antonievic, 10, Michael Debney and Matthew Essex from near Oxford, United Kingdom, Kane Middlemiss, 11, ( front left) Olivia McMillan, 10, Bernice Cullen, 9, Rachael Turner, 10, Beth Coghlan, 10, Grace Astle, 9,

An enthusiastic group of students from Mossburn school gathered to have a midwinter  tidy up of the community no- dig, organic garden  they have established in their school grounds. They were surprised to find silver beet, many large potatoes, cabbages and rhubarb all still  surviving the cold.
 Bags of produce were taken home to share with families. Weeds and the remains of vegetables were put in the compost bin. They were  assisted by two Willing Workers On Organic Farms ( WWOOFers), Michael Debney and  Matthew Essex who happened to be staying in the Mossburn township. They will help the students plant donated native trees in the school grounds, as well as shift the heritage fruit trees to a better site.

"It is great to see the students involved in learning about growing vegetables,"Debney said. "They were delighted with what was still available from their previous plantings, had fun finding things and were keen  to tell us about what they had learned through their on- going garden project."