The vast majority of people this year were receptive to recycling ...

Sarah Grant, manager for the Hastings Environment Centre
Holding big events now doesn't mean having to deal with the aftermath of huge piles of rubbish everywhere.

The Zero Waste programme is doing wonders for Papatuanuku (mother earth) and big events like the Waitangi Day celebrations in Hastings Sports Park meant 80 per cent of waste was able to be recycled.

That's up from 64 per cent last year. "We're thrilled with the result," says Sarah Grant, manager for the Hastings Environment Centre.


Each Waitangi Day thousands of people walk through the gates and this year a massive 15,000-strong crowd attended the festivities.

But reducing the waste from the crowd was a huge task and saw staff spending 14 hours after the event, sorting and washing contaminated waste to ensure it was suitable for recycling.

The Zero Waste programme meant recycling stations at the event came with an educator, whose job it was to help people put their waste in the right cubicles.

"The vast majority of people this year were receptive to recycling even though most needed guidance for the disposal of their waste."

Having a positive reaction from festival-goers to recycle their waste correctly at large kaupapa Maori events like is something Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc want to normalise at their events.

"We have a lifelong commitment to Para Kore - Zero Waste and education is the key," says Te Rangi Huata, events manager for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi.

The idea behind the programme is about changing behaviours towards how waste is disposed of and moving away from the "just throw it away" attitude of today.

Other iwi around the country holding their own large-scale events are increasing their efforts to minimise waste.

Paepae in the Park in Patea was able to divert 70 per cent from landfill while Orakei in Auckland had only 4 per cent waste at their Waitangi Day celebrations.

The target for next year is to improve on that.