Jared Hiakita (Ngāi Tūhoe) is one of thirty young leaders who is being recognised as top change-makers in environmental education by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).
The Environmental Education under 30 program recognises the diverse work young people do for the environment and their community.
Hiakita is a waste education advisor for the zero-waste kaupapa Para Kore ki Te Hiku. He says he is pleased that his mahi is being recognised.
“I'm really grateful that our mahi with Para Kore is recognised by the North American Association for Environmental Education. In October, I will be traveling to Washington to attend their conference."
Hiakita says his love for the environment stems from his hometown, Waimana, and the stunning forest of Te Urewera.
"I hail from a small rural settlement in Aotearoa called Waimana, which sits on the northern edge of a stunning forest called Te Urewera. This place sustained and nurtured my ancestors for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years and is where the seeds of my commitment to the environment were sown. I have a background in community development, arts, and education, however, from a young age, I have been involved in conservation in some shape or form. Now I live in the Far North of Aotearoa, where I am a kaiārahi for Para Kore."
The thirty recipients are dedicated advocates for the environment and are working to create change in their communities.
Judy Braus, Executive Director of NAAEE says, "We are thrilled with the incredible talent, passion, and leadership of these dedicated young individuals who join a growing community of environmental education champions. They are not only working towards a sustainable future but also inspiring the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps. NAAEE is excited to support their diversity efforts and their continued growth as exceptional environmental education leaders."
Many of the recipients have founded programs that engage audiences such as indigenous communities and those in less affluent areas, who historically have not been served through traditional environmental education opportunities.