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ACG's student-led clean-up project

With a focus on preserving the natural environment, heads of ACG Parnell College's Environmental Committee, Andrew Richards and Rose Dryden helped orchestrate numerous beach clean-up initiatives around the city.
Environmental Committee co-leaders, Andrew Richards and Rose Dryden

Protecting the environment is a hot-button issue for today's youth, and the ACG Parnell College student body is committed to playing its part. Before Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in August, the school's leadership team were actively organising waterside clean-up projects at some of Auckland's most popular beaches and basins.

As heads of the school's Environmental Committee, Deputy Head Boy Andrew Richards and Senior Prefect Rose Dryden coordinated current members and recruited new student volunteers to support the project. The result was a team of 'Tidy Kiwis' who give up one Sunday per month to collect litter and abandoned debris from local waterfront locales.

Highlighting their determination to make the city a cleaner and greener place, Andrew explains the students' involvement below.

"ACG Parnell College's Environmental Committee were once again out and about cleaning up Auckland's beaches and basins. Led by Rose and myself, the beach clean-up group was keen to help make our watersides look as immaculate as possible.

"Unfortunately, Auckland's impact on its environment and beaches often falls under the radar. The fact that people swim at beaches littered with all sorts of rubbish is rather miserable to see, and like all our team, I wanted to find a way to improve the situation. The Environmental Committee was a natural fit for me, and I was grateful for the opportunity to help lead the group alongside Rose. She especially puts in a tonne of hard work, so heaps of credit goes to her.

"Seeing the other members have a genuinely good time with their friends while contributing to the cause is definitely my favourite part about beach clean-ups. It's great that other like-minded people want to keep our local fauna and flora safe, and knowing my generation is willing to put in that effort and hard work is really uplifting. Even though the weather has been bad every time we have done a beach clean-up, people still show up and commit – and it's critical to achieving an effective outcome for the day.

"Events like these are just another example of how our student-body continues to show their interest in helping the communities they are based around. Additionally, the beach clean-up gives us a perfect way to build and develop values like leadership, communication and teamwork as we move into our final years of college education.

"Over the past months, we have collected rubbish from well-known places like Mission Bay and the Orakei Basin, and these clean-ups were set to continue throughout the year. While Auckland's lockdown has temporality stopped the Environmental Committee's efforts, the initiative will be reintroduced as soon as practicable – once current restrictions are lifted and it's safe for everyone to be out and about.

"For those looking to join us in the future, we always provide information on the events closer to the time, and any ACG student who wants to be involved is welcome to join us. It's a perfect opportunity to make new friends on an enjoyable Sunday afternoon or to add meaningful extracurricular activities into your routine.

"Another project the committee tackled this year was organising an Environmental Week. Planned for September, the focus was on the continual changes in our world and how it affects our environment, and we had many fun activities and events in the pipeline. Regrettably, we had to scale this down due to lockdown. However, students still participated online, posting artwork and videos and joining quizzes and games, so the virtual format proved to be a highly interactive success."

Some of the ACG Parnell College Environmental Committee members who helped make a difference to Auckland's waterfront this year