Sir Peter Blake was a legendary New Zealand leader, explorer, and environmentalist who continues to inspire us all. BLAKE aims to help New Zealanders make a positive difference to the planet by encouraging environmental awareness and leadership development.

Through the BLAKE Inspire programme, Mahanga and Emily each identified goals and action plans to address environmental issues and drive positive change in their communities. With Westpac’s support of a sponsorship grant, Mahanga and Emily are putting their plans into action.   

Together with BLAKE, Westpac is proud to support these young environmentalists to achieve great things.

Blake Foundation Mahananga

Mahanga Mitchell, Year 11, Northland

My goal is to help stop the spread of kauri dieback disease in Hokianga, by planting Maori rongoa trees with the support of the tangata whenua. I would like to have 1500 rongoa trees grown from local seed, nurtured and planted by 2021.

What I love most about our forests is the presence of our natural environment fully surrounding you. I have been working on the Kauri Dieback Programme alongside my father for eight years now and I want to see it through.

New Zealand is facing heaps of environmental problems – threatened native species, climate change, poor water quality and plastic pollution. We need to solve these problems to protect and nurture our special native flora and fauna, our waterways, our country and our world.

There’s lots an average New Zealander can do to help us. Anyone can grow rongoa plants from their local bush and help restore native forest. I’m inspired by my dad and his friends and whanau, who are helping lead the way.

Blake Foundation Emily

Emily Stewart, Year 13, Wellington

My goal is to help my school phase out plastic drink bottles, by leading an initiative to install water bottle filling stations, and making reusable drink bottles available to all students.

New Zealand must start making great strides towards limiting and preventing plastic from polluting our environment. It is not a matter of why we need to solve these problems, it is a matter of why aren't we acting right now to help save our planet.

There are lots of simple changes you can make to cut down your plastic waste: use a keep cup instead of a takeaway coffee cup, carry your own reusable cutlery, make the switch to a bamboo toothbrush, use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottled water, and avoid plastic packaging when supermarket shopping.

We need to be acting in a sustainable manner so that the future generations can enjoy and live on a planet that is not dying. This is what inspires me: the hope for a future where my children inherit a healthy Earth.