A Northland man who has made it his mission to help Māori organisations achieve zero waste has been honoured by the Muhammad Ali Center in the United States.

Jared Hiakita (Ngāi Tūhoe), who lives in North Hokianga, is an educator with Para Kore, an organisation delivering waste minimisation and environmental training to marae, kura and kōhanga around the Far North.

Hiakita will travel to the centre's US headquarters with his partner, Rangimarie Mules, and their 6-month-old son Taupae this week to receive a Humanitarian Award alongside five other inspiring rangatahi from Syria, Ghana, Gaza, Colombia and the US.

The environmental campaigner said at first he struggled with being singled out for the award and even wondered whether he should accept it.

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He had since come to terms with it by seeing the award not as a reflection of his own work, but of all the kaupapa and people who had shaped him, and the movements he was associated with.

''As long as I can use it to do more good things, then kei te pai, I'll be the recipient,'' he said.

"Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but the success of a collective."

Jared Hiakita is building a tiny house in North Hokianga with his partner Rangimarie Mules. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Jared Hiakita is building a tiny house in North Hokianga with his partner Rangimarie Mules. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Muhammad Ali Center president Donald Lassere said all this year's recipients were "amazing and purpose-driven individuals" who inspired others with their accomplishments, abilities and courage to affect lasting change.

Hiakita caught the attention of the Muhammad Ali Center last year when he was named one of the world's 30 top change-makers aged under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education. He also travelled to the US for that award and was one of four speakers who closed the conference.

Hiakita is building a tiny house on family land in Hokianga as an example of how to solve New Zealand's housing crisis. There he and Mules plan to put their land restoration and food sovereignty ideals into practice.

Hiakita will receive his award in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 12.