A Whangarei councillor has been named the country's Fair Trade Supporter of the Year, following two years' work getting businesses and fellow councillors to embrace the fair trade concept.
Tricia Cutforth is now in India meeting some of the farmers whose rights she has helped uphold back in her hometown. Fair Trade-certified products ensure employees at overseas suppliers are paid a fair amount for the work they do.
"I'm going to see them actually physically picking the cotton," Ms Cutforth said. "And they're also interested in finding out how we go about the fair trade process through somewhere like Whangarei."
Ms Cutforth would also visit a company that made goods for Whangarei's Trade Aid branch and her trip included some personal travel tacked on the end of the Fair Trade ambassadorship.
"My mother was born in Yangon and the family lived around [Indian provinces] Bangalore, Ootacumond and Madras ... I have traced a third cousin who has set up a women's eco-sustainable farming development programme at Ootacumond which I intend to visit."
Fair Trade Supporter of the year judge Alexia Santamaria described Ms Cutforth as "very impressive". "Tricia is clearly a tireless campaigner for Fair Trade working on both a grass roots and local government level," Ms Santamaria said.
Ms Cutforth has co-headed the Make Whangarei A Fair Trade District steering committee which collected 1200 signatures for the cause, as well as ensuring fair trade products were available at council meetings and events.
This was presented to Whangarei District Council as part of the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan submissions.
A district is given certification by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand after meeting a set of criteria.