A New Zealand aeronaut is bringing his hot air balloon to Taranaki to teach people about sustainability.
The Flying High project was created by Kiwi hot air balloon pilot entrepreneur Andrew Parker. Andrew is the former owner of the Hamilton-based Kiwi Balloon Company and the director behind the global Flying High For Kids (FHFK) not-for-profit project.
FHFK combined Parker's passion for flying and desire to highlight the importance of accessible education for children around the world. His five year adventure began in 2014 and by 2019 he had flown his balloon at schools and events in 87 countries, many of them Third World or developing nations. Working with various international children's organisations like UNICEF, he reached more than 60,000 children.
Andrew says he'd been "brewing" a project involving education, innovation and sustainability for a while as a way of giving something back to his own country.
"I was working overseas when Covid hit and came home just before lockdown to be with my family. That's when I started fully focusing on fleshing out a New Zealand-based Flying High project – I really want to help Kiwi kids create a stronger, more sustainable future for themselves and their communities."
He says in collaboration with Sustainable Taranaki, the Flying High Charitable Trust is hosting three free events over the Taranaki region during April. He says it is important to live sustainably.
"I will be talking about how people can make small changes to live more sustainably. Sustainability is on top of everyone's mind. I will use the balloon as an example. It's not sustainable but I'm working on making changes to make it more sustainable. Everyone can look at the things they enjoy and make small changes using innovation to be more sustainable."
Andrew says he enjoys getting kids to think creatively about environmentally sustainable living and how they can be part of the solution.
"My research into making a hot air balloon more sustainable starts a conversation about personal changes they can make in their everyday lives and ends up talking about the activities they love the most and what they might like to do as a future career."
Andrew is using the funds from the sale of his truck that he drove around the world in to start his new venture.
"Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is," Andrew says.
"I've been so busy with the preparation of the project that I haven't had a lot of time to seek funds. Given the hugely positive response by schools, I believe there's a need for a project like this and I'm a firm believer in less talking, more doing."
For more information about Andrew, the project and the schools involved, visit www.flyinghighproject.com.
What: Flying High in Taranaki.
When: April 20, 5pm-7.30pm New Plymouth Raceway, April 23 5pm-7.30pm Waitara Marine Park, April 29, 5pm-7.30pm, Hāwera High School.