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Street Guardians wins an award for collaboration

News story
Friday 4 Mar 2022

We are thrilled to announce that our Street Guardians programme has received a Highly Commended award at the Mayoral Conservation Awards 2021 – in the Collaboration category - recognising the contribution it makes towards environmental outcomes in Auckland. 

Designed to provide a positive alternative to begging in the city centre, Street Guardians has brought wonderful benefits to those participating as well as to the natural environment. The success of this programme has been made possible due to the rich partnerships between us, Auckland City Mission – who are responsible for delivering the programme - our community organisation partners including Kaipātiki Project, EcoMatters, Kelmarna Gardens and the Tipping Point who have all been working with Street Guardians since its inception in 2019, funding from the Ministry of Social Development, and importantly the participants.  

While the programme is currently on hold due to the Omicron outbreak, it normally operates twice a week for six hours and 12 people per session. This equates to 6,192 volunteer hours per year towards conservation efforts!

Our community partners are full of positive feedback about the programme – both the benefits of it to their conservation efforts as well as the contribution from participants:

“Kaipātiki Project acknowledges the regularity and unmatched enthusiasm of the Street Guardians, and their contribution to a long-term conservation project at Te Ara Awataha. Having such an engaged group has meant that they have been able to tackle tasks that would have been just too formidable for Kaipātiki Project alone.

The Street Guardians consistently turn up with huge smiles and never shy away from work. They have stamped their mark on the site: cut down bamboo, built retaining walls and a food garden (their idea!), planted vegetables, restored the harakeke grove and cleaned huge amounts of invasive weeds. One of the most heartening things they’ve seen is the way people connect to the land with dignity and mana, and connect to their own culture and their heritage.

One participant said, ‘I've always seen my grandmother weaving, but I never knew about all the different plants - how to get them ready for her or even why they have to be planted in certain places. It was really good’. The team loves being in the outdoors and the native bush, but the cultural aspect of the day made it truly special.  Another participant said that they like ‘working as a group [and]the fact we’re doing something worthwhile together outside of the city.’ Some of the women in the programme find it deeply healing and rewarding to work on and around harakeke. Others enjoy the physical work of clearing. They affectionately call it their ‘good, clean, dirty work’”
- Neil Henderson, Kaipātiki Project

”EcoMatters Environment Trust and the local communities of Glen Eden, New Lynn, and Kelston have benefited from the support of the Street Guardians. Their contribution to the care of our streamside environment in these areas has been amazing. It is such a pleasure to work with such an engaged and hard-working crew who often sit on the fringes of our communities but with this work, they are an integral and appreciated group that supports our environment and community.  Their desire to learn about their environment is heartening. They all love water quality monitoring and gaining a better understanding of what impacts the health of our environment and how they too, can look after te taiao. Their impact in conservation work is visible and important.” - Pamela Gill, EcoMatters

Environmental results to date have included:

  • Planted 100+ trees at Waiheke wetlands.
  • Cared for extensive areas of riverbank at Project Twin Streams in Glen Eden and streamsides in Kelston and New Lynn.  This has entailed weeding, planting, water quality monitoring, stream clean-ups.
  • Laid 4+ truckloads of mulch around natives, weeded land and around harakeke at Kaipātiki Project.
  • Helped prepare several community and educational gardens.
  • Significant and regular contribution at Te Ara Awataha: cleared an enormous amount of bamboo and reused it for a retaining wall and a community garden. Since the restoration began, there’s been an increase in birds, even kōura.
  • Helped divert tonnes of materials from landfill at the Tipping Point to be recycled.

One of the initiatives that our Street Guardian team have been involved in was the restoration of the Jessie Tonar Scout reserve, a video of the project captures the progress and their contribution to this here. 

And here's what the Street Guardian participants say about the programme in their own words.

Find out more about our Street Guardian programme here.