Sam Judd: Top ten eco-friendly gifts

The onslaught of hurried shoppers spending a heap of their hard-earned cash on unnecessary gifts that are invariably wrapped in single use plastic is about to ensue.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Check out my top ten gift ideas that are both easy on your wallet and easy on the planet.

Read the full story here »

How do you know if a brand’s ethical claims are fair?

Fairtrade on branding ethics

Check out this clever and informative page on the Fairtrade website looking at the issue of branding and labelling.

NZ tops British holiday destination survey

Beach at Kaiteriteri Nelson, New Zealand

New Zealand is the best holiday spot in the world, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Aotearoa edged out the stunning Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean and also South Africa to be voted best destination in a poll of 17,000 readers.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said the accolade was a huge honour.

“It’s great news for us to know that even in these tough economic times, long-haul destinations like New Zealand are obviously still so important and inspiring.”

He cited last year’s Rugby World Cup and the upcoming world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as highlights on the tourism calendar.

The latest visitor figures reveal New Zealand short-term visitor numbers fell in September compared with a year earlier, which was bolstered by the Rugby World Cup.

China overtook the United States as the third-largest visitor source.

Some 179,100 short-term visitors arrived here last month, down from 219,900 visitors in September 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Figures released this week showed total guest nights at short-term accommodation fell 3.6 per cent to 2.11 million in September, compared with the same month a year earlier, and were down 1.4 per cent from August.

Air New Zealand announced last week that it was axing its service to Britain through Hong Kong, which will have lost tens of millions of dollars when it closes after six years next March.

Air New Zealand deputy chief executive Norm Thompson said there had been a “softening” in visitor numbers from the UK and Europe.

But those travellers came for three or four weeks rather than days, offering good value to the economy.

Mr Thompson was not surprised to see New Zealand top the poll.

“The coastline, the cuisine, the people – people have a good experience here. When you start getting mentions [like this poll] and the added exposure of The Hobbit, then we would hope to reverse the reduction in visitors from that part of the world.”

The poll also ranked Air New Zealand the third best long-haul airline. Mr Thompson said that was testament to the people who worked for the company.

Tourist hotspots

Favourite worldwide country
1 New Zealand
2 Maldives
3 South Africa

Favourite long-haul airline
1 Singapore Airlines
2 Emirates
3 Air New Zealand

Source: Daily Telegraph, poll of 17,000 readers


See also: NZ best country in world for business – Forbes

Study on Manuka honey divides experts

Jar of Honey

Source: NZH

More than half the brands of manuka honey tested in a university experiment did not match the pollen count promised to shoppers on the label.

The results have divided experts – the honey industry claims the test is not reliable but consumer advocates want labels to mean what they say.

Lincoln University PhD student Patchanee Boontaganon made a physical and chemical analysis of 74 supermarket honey brands.

She found that 29 out of 64 “mono-floral” samples, such as manuka honey, were not true to label based on their pollen count.

The remaining 10 honeys in her sample each came from more than one plant.

Fewer than half of the 26 manuka honeys were true to label, something Ms Boontaganon said could erode consumer confidence in the pricey product.

Manuka honey’s high levels of antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide – which aid its antimicrobial or bug-killing activity – have driven consumer demand and make it more expensive than other products.

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Alliance calls for urgent ban on shark finning

Matt Watson makes the NZSA message clear, at Kelly Tarlton's Sealife Aquarium

The ITM Fishing Show host Matt Watson says shark finning is a disgusting practice and is calling on the government to ban the practice in New Zealand.

Earlier today, Matt Watson helped launch a campaign by the newly-formed New Zealand Shark Alliance (NZSA) at Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium to encourage New Zealanders to support their bid to ban shark finning on our waters.

Global shark populations have plummeted over the past 50 years, and the estimated 73-100 million sharks caught every year only for their fins, is contributing significantly to the decline.

Ninety-eight nations, including Australia, Canada, Ecuador and members of the European Union, have already banned shark finning. New Zealand is not one of them.

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Dole faces pressure over Ethical Choice brand

Dole's controversial 'ethical choice' labelling


Company accused of seeking to “escape scrutiny and potential challenge” by trademarking own version of Fair Trade label

A number of reports in New Zealand have claimed that fresh produce group Dole Asia Fresh Produce – recently sold by US multinational Dole Food Company to Japanese firm Itochu Corp – has lodged a trademark application in the country for its Ethical Choice brand.

The New Zealand branch of Fair Trade is understood to have officially registered an objection to the move, which international charitable organisation Oxfam said would enable Dole to “escape scrutiny and potential challenge” with regard to the brand.

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NZ falcon wins Bird of the Year


The New Zealand falcon (karearea) has been crowned Bird of the Year in Forest & Bird’s eighth annual poll.

This year 10,292 votes were cast in this fiercely contested poll, with the karearea snatching 1261 votes in total, followed by the kokako (965) and the ruru (663).

“The karearea is a bird that’s most worthy of the title Bird of the Year,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“As well as being a top predator that can reach speeds of up to 230km an hour and catch prey mid-flight, it’s a great romantic. During courtship, couples will perform an aerial ballet, swapping food mid-flight, performing mock attack dives or spiralling gracefully landward.”

Despite being an aerial daredevil, it is vulnerable to predation when nesting on the ground and is listed as ”threatened”.

A recent Department of Conservation study suggests that adult falcons are less able to defend their nest from predators than previously thought. “The NZ falcon nests on rocky ledges or on the ground, making it particularly vulnerable to predators such as cats, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels and possums.”

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UC Researcher: Too many eco-labels ‘green washing’ products

Pavel Castka UC profile

Press Release: University of Canterbury

A Canterbury University researcher is slamming consumer goods companies for green-washing supermarket shelf items with a flood of eco-labels.

College of Business and Economics research director Pavel Castka said there were so many labels with products claiming all sorts of environmental and social issues that it was difficult to distinguish, which one to trust.

There were two mains categories of eco-labels to look out for, one less and one more trustworthy, he said.

“A food producer may label their chips are ‘all natural’ but what does it mean? Well, it is often very hard to tell.

“Then there are eco-labels by independent labelling schemes. These are labels that are independently audited and issued by third parties. For instance, for a product to display the Fairtrade mark it must meet the international Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards which are set by the certification body Fairtrade International.

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Bird of the Year poll open

Forest and Bird logo - giving nature a voice

TV personality Te Radar, comedian Raybon Kan and actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand will be championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year poll, which kicks off today.

The poll, in its eighth year, aims to raise the profile of New Zealand’s threatened and much loved bird species. In recent years, well-known New Zealanders have acted as ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite bird, and gone to great lengths to drum up votes.

“Competition between campaign managers has become fierce in recent years, with people finding all sorts of hard-case ways to promote their bird,” says Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Toki.

Read More »

Organic Farming Course – Nelson & Marlborough – March 2013

Self-directed, site-specific, down-to-earth Home Grown Organics (Distance Learning Programme)

A new course in organic horticulture offered by the BHU Organic Training College at Lincoln is a mix of correspondence with five days at the college with tutors.

Called “blended distance,” this part-time course will suit people wanting to learn about organic growing but who may have other commitments that prevent them from enrolling in the full or part-time programme at the college.

There are three core courses (foundations of organic horticulture , composting and soils) and several electives that the students can choose (e.g., plant growth, biodiversity, shelter belts, permaculture).

Students have one year to complete the qualification from the time that they enrol. Successful students will receive the Certificate in Organic Horticulture Level 3 and will have the skills and knowledge to be employed in an organic business or be able to maintain permanent yield from their organic home / farming environment.

The course provides the organic growing skills required to establish mutual networks of care and help safeguard the functional holistic integrity of home, farm, community and environment.

The five-day block course is held in March 2013 and is a mix of practical work at organic farming locations in Marlborough, Nelson or the college’s 10 ha certified organic farm, plus classroom sessions with tutors.

For more information about the course, phone the college on 03.325.3684 or see

Nelson Tasman Ecofest 2012 – 18 & 19 August 2012

Ecofest Logo

Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm and Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm at the Trafalgar Centre, Nelson

Only $5 for adults & free for kids!

Download your Ecofest 2012 programme here.

Things to do and see at Ecofest:

  • Take a tour of Eco-homes on the weekend of 11 & 12 August. (Tickets available from all local Council offices from 20 July)
  • Win awesome prizes
  • Learn from a variety of food demonstrations
  • Visit over 120 stands
  • Get hands-on learning at HEAPS of demonstrations and workshops
  • Vote for your favourite recycled garment at the Fashion Shows
  • Kids – follow the Trail to lead you to your prize
  • Learn how to make cheese, raise chooks, grow veggies
  • and MUCH more.

‘Living Legends’ plans big tree plant at Wakapuaka Wildlife Reserve this Saturday

“In 2011, to celebrate New Zealand’s hosting of Rugby World Cup, 17 Rugby Legends joined thousands of volunteers to plant 83,000 native trees throughout New Zealand.

This year, Living Legends is returning to 17 locations to plant another 45,000 trees. Register to get involved in an event near you – you might even be lucky enough to meet your local Rugby Legend!”

The Rugby World Cup tournament is over but the tree planting goes on.

On Saturday Living Legends will plant 2600 native trees and shrubs at Wakapuaka Wildlife Reserve in honour of rugby legend Todd Blackadder.

Living Legends is a community conservation project that was established last year to celebrate and leave a legacy of New Zealand’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup.

A total of 85,000 native trees were planted. This year Living Legends is returning to the 17 regions to plant a further 45,000 native trees and shrubs.

Each planting project is dedicated to a rugby legend from the region and Blackadder is the chosen Tasman Rugby Legend.

He will visit the site when he is in Nelson for Tasman Makos v Canterbury clash on August 24.

Registrations close Wednesday. Register at

Nelson Mail