When writing about the environment, it is hard sometimes not to get caught up in the negative.

I was all set to do this again today with a rant about abusive drivers (and commenters) who can't seem to grasp the fact that sharing the road with cyclists is a good thing because less cars on the road is better for our health and waterways.

But my goal in these efforts is to give people an idea that may help to change behaviour positively for a better environment, which inevitably results in better health and social outcomes too.

Exceptionally clever psychologists like the team at Studio Huss have told me that to achieve behavioural change we must focus on more positive than negative content.


So with this in mind, I attended the Waitemata Local Board Good Citizens Awards last night. This wonderful occasion saw a collection of people who - as Shale Chambers, the Chairman of the Local Board said - "...are the glue that hold our community together."

There were pensioners who put huge hours and passion into volunteer causes, dancing up to the podium, ecstatic about being recognised for their graft, and groups dedicated to improving cycling (seriously needed), saving trees from being cut down, and making public spaces like the Maritime Museum thrive.

But one award recipient stood out for me - The Watercare Harbour Cleanup Trust - with a cause very close to my heart and results which I reckon deserve a standing ovation.

Captains Hayden Smith and Ben Harris have been removing rubbish from the Waitemata Harbour for over 12 years. Rain or shine, they are out there, either on a custom-built barge or by road with a trailer at inland creeks if the sea is too rough.

Since inception, they have removed a staggering 3.7 million litres of rubbish from the waterways. To put this into context, there are 1.5 million litres of concrete in Auckland's Skytower.

This has been achieved by working with community groups, schools, volunteers, offenders and at-risk youth. I feel honoured to have worked with them before and I think it is fantastic that Auckland Council and Watercare recognise the obvious need to enable them to carry out this important work.

What's more, their vision of rubbish-free waterways has been so successful that it is now being replicated around the country and internationally through the Sea Cleaners Trust.

Does anyone have an example of people who are leading the way with positive efforts to improve our environment? If so, please email me here as I would love to share their stories as I strongly believe that we need leadership such as this to be celebrated. Bravo.