> Wider societal impact
The wider societal impact we have seen from launching Te Oraka includes:
Increased social sustainability education and reduced inequalities
Sustainable solutions can sit in a space of privilege, especially when engaging with themes of reusable items, thrift shopping choices, and access to sustainable alternatives. By creating easily accessible, more affordable access to good quality household items and clothing, sustainable solutions have reached a wider demographic of students and staff.
To combat period poverty, Te Oraka works with local menstrual cup brand Coral Cone, a safe and thoughtfully designed alternative that sells its product in Te Oraka at a reduced price point. We have also worked to host reusable pad making workshops more regularly during Semester 2 so people who menstruate can create a reusable pad kit for only $6.
The space also has a refilling station that offers hand soap, dishwashing and laundry liquid for a low price point, so students and staff can refill their jars and bottles with good quality products that are consciously made with the planet in mind.
A project designed by a student will be launching in Semester 2 to provide students and staff with affordable food. Portable planter boxes containing winter vegetable plants will be sold for $10 each and will have all support needed to have this veg thrive in flats and homes that cannot have permanent in-built planter boxes. In summer, we provide new vegetable plant options to grow.
Community support and buy-in
In its infancy, Te Oraka has already established strong links with local and national projects to support wider impact. Our Sustainabilty Office has always played a collaborator role and now Te Oraka provides a space that can be used more widely than we could have imagined. At this point the space is supporting:
Te Oraka is a space that advocates for our Māori community and allies. As a rule of thumb, our team ensures all events, workshops and campaigns remain culturally sensitive and meet tikanga (Māori practices) requirements. This small but notable step is our starting point for bringing sustainability and indigenous knowledge together at ground level. Our Sustainability Office collaborates with our University’s Office of Māori Development at a strategic level.
COVID-19 learnt values
We have noticed student and staff morale has been low during the COVID pandemic in New Zealand and burnout is very real across our student and staff communities. Our team is using Te Oraka as a space that is consistently active and promises both students and staff they will more opportunities to get involved if they are unwell (physically or mentally) that week. This reduces disappointment or guilt about missing out on what Te Oraka is offering that week and reduces the mental load many people are already carrying.
Mental health and wellbeing support
When harnessing sustainable change, it is important students lead conversations about the daily struggles students face with stress, flatting, financial difficulties, academic challenges etc. When people feel stronger internally, they can care more about life outside themselves, so our team ensures the Te Oraka space, its campaigns and events visibly support and underline mental health and well-being. This created better connections with groups and individuals who may be struggling in these spaces and has helped empower them.