Our stories

Celebrating the Young Environmental Activists of Aotearoa: The Kākāriki Journey


Listen to Pipi’s RNZ interview with Jesse Mulligan.

All around the world, the youth of today are demonstrating a passion and commitment to saving our environment. Thanks to the recent introduction of the Kākāriki JourneyThe Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award participants are leading the way. This month, Bay of Plenty’s Phillipa Kendal has become Aotearoa’s first rangatahi to complete Kākāriki; a self-directed, environmentally focused journey that formally recognises young New Zealander’s efforts in the environmental field.

The curation of the Kākāriki Journey was directly inspired by Award participant feedback. When asked what issues they cared about most in 2020, Kiwi participants put climate change and protecting the environment at the top of their lists – and so, the Kākāriki Journey was born.

“Our aim is to equip all young New Zealanders with the skills and experience to play an important role in protecting Aotearoa,” National Director, Karen Ross 

Throughout Phillipa’s Kākāriki Journey, she developed sustainable shopping and consumption habits (that resulted in almost zero waste for her household) and volunteered as a leader of her School Environment Committee; to implement more sustainable practices into every possible aspect of her school communityHer commitment has been recognised internationally, seeing her selected to speak on International Award Workshop Panels, discussing both sustainability and mental health, later this month. 

“I love this programme so much. Everyone should do it – it only takes one person to make a change.” Philippa Kendal 

Kākāriki has also solidified Philippa’s desire to pursue an environmentally focused future, hence her recent application to study NZ Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury.

It’s no surprise that the launch of the Kākāriki Journey has been met with great enthusiasm and participant uptake. Students from Hutt Valley High School and Tautoko Supported Learning Centre are regularly cleaning up rubbish at Hikoikoi Reserve in Petone; Gisborne Boy’s High participants are working to restore wetlands locally and when asked what impact she believes the journey has on the environment, Maclean’s College student Lara Teodorescu said, “no matter how big the issues may seem; everyone can still contribute to positive change.” 

In 2020/2021, Award Participants invested more than 55,559 volunteer hours into their communities – the equivalent of 42,737 rugby games. Phillipa, Lara and Hutt Valley High School are just a few examples of participants committing these hours to a better future for our whenua.

HRH Prince Philip, one of the founding members of the Award, was an avid environmentalist who dedicated much of his life to supporting causes that carved a more positive future for our earth. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award are proud to be continuing his vision through the Kākāriki Journey and take great pride in celebrating the first of many Kākāriki Alumni.