Inspiration at Tiaki Expo

For the third year running, the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust ran the Tiaki programme, which partners South Auckland schools with local businesses to carry out unique environmental innovation projects aimed at enhancing their local area. UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leader Nola Smart represented the National Commission at the one-day Tiaki Expo. She reports back.

Nola Smart speaking at Tiaki Expo.

August 10 saw future ‘guardians of the environment’ come together to tackle some of the big issues of our generation. It was the day of the Tiaki Expo 2018. For months students from schools across South Auckland had been hard at work with industry expert mentors to create solutions to environmental challenges. Their ideas were showcased at the expo and ranged from using plastic as home insulation to improving water quality, to using algae for biofuel production.

The suspense grew during the day as the judging panel walked around asking questions of students about their exhibits and it highlighted just how much knowledge had been gained through the process. A special congratulations to Mission Heights Junior College, Aorere College, Southern Cross Campus and Manurewa High School for their winning innovations!

The expo was open to the public and had over 1000 attendees supporting the work of the students. There were stalls and talks by environmental and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry organisations, tertiary education providers and Auckland Council – each with hands-on activities and information about green careers. I was lucky enough to present on UNESCO and some of the environmental opportunities I had at high school.

The Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust has been running this event for three years, aiming to raise interest and break down some of the barriers to STEM green careers. This hands-on experience is an amazing chance to interact with industry professionals and work on real-world projects. The Tiaki Expo 2018 had a visible impact on students and left me excited for where they’ll end up. With the event held two days before International Youth Day I can’t think of a better time to celebrate youth being change-makers.

All up it was an inspiring day and a privilege to experience first-hand how youth are stepping up to face the future!

Photos from the event are on the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust Facebook page.