Sam Judd founded the charity Sustainable Coastlines in 2008.
Its aim was to motivate volunteers to remove rubbish from beaches around New Zealand and educate the public about the hazards posed to the marine environment – particularly from single use plastic.
Since then Sustainable Coastlines has had nearly 53,000 people take part in clean-up events.
It has collected nearly 1.2 million litres of rubbish and planted more than 45,000 thousand trees.
Judd and his small team are now constructing an education centre in the heart of Auckland’s waterfront in the Wynyard Quarter - to bring the message to an even bigger audience.
The building, known as The Flagship, is being built, in part, by prisoners at Paremoremo prison in Auckland - where Judd has been involved for the past two and a half years.
Prisoners have been processing shipping containers and palettes to make flooring and cladding for the building.
The building has the highest possible environmental certification – a ‘living building’ certification. Which means it must be able to process all grey water and sewage on site, be energy-use positive and use no toxic materials.
Judd says the building, designed by Auckland architects Jasmax, will be built of 80 percent repurposed materials.
“We’re so focussed on waste minimisation it [the building] had to be made out of reclaimed materials.”
He says shipping containers have been used for the main structure as well as tanks for rain gardens planted with natives which will process grey water on site.
The containers, he says, are readily available, strong, cheap and fit in with the port setting.
The construction has also made use of reclaimed tōtara.
“ Tōtara lasts 25 years as a post in the ground with no treatment whatsoever - it’s a treasure wood.
“Some of the tōtara that we’ve picked up has been salvaged out of swamps in Piopio. During the Muldoon era they burned down the most valuable native forests in the country to make way for pine forests and dairying.
“The local tangata whenua got a permit to salvage this tōtara out of the swamps.”
Judd says there are pieces of tōtara in the project that are half burned.
The involvement of prisoners in the project can be transformative, he says.
John, an inmate at Paremoremo, says working with his hands and learning new skills will help him reestablish his life after jail and he’s putting something back.
“Just being a part of something, I’m rapt eh? I’ve never really given back to the community, I’ve just done bad really, so this is a step in the right direction.”