A recent Walshe Group initiative saw a group of young environmental champions from New Zealand travel to the Hawaiian Islands to play a part in the fight against the impact that rubbish-particularly plastic, is having on our oceans and sea life.

One of the highlights, was the group’s participation in International Coastal Cleanup Day in September 2018 with singer songwriter Jack Johnson and his charitable foundation, Kōkua.

Darragh Walshe, who is the lead for Hawaii Tourism Oceania in New Zealand initiated contact with Kiwi environmental champion, Hayden Smith who leads not-for-profit organisation Sea Cleaners. Smith was named “Local Hero of the Year” in 2017 for his work in engaging volunteers to help clean up the coastlines and waterways around New Zealand.

Walshe worked closely with Sea Cleaners to bring a group of young environmental leaders to Hawai‘i, to participate in coastal clean-ups and share their insights and challenges with local schools and communities in Hawai‘i.

With a growing focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, The Walshe Group has seen the need to provide opportunities for tourists to play a part in ensuring they are impacting the destination they are visiting in a positive way. With this in mind the New Zealand Herald travelled with the group to highlight the Sea Cleaners story along with other voluntourism opportunities available to visitors in Hawaii.

Walshe said  “There are so many synergies and opportunities between Hawaii and Aotearoa (New Zealand) that are linked to the Sea Cleaners visit and potential ongoing exchanges - be it environmental, cultural, tourism, education and general awareness.”

The trip has also been the catalyst for something much larger, with a concept created called ‘The Ripple Effect’ which aims to inspire and educate all vacation, visitor and travel industries toward eliminating single-use plastics throughout their operations and affiliations throughout the world. A return visit to New Zealand by a group from Hawai‘i will take place in 2019, as well as groups from New Zealand and Australia to partake in International Coastal Cleanup Day this September.

The Walshe Group would like to acknowledge the many people and organisations who helped get this initiative off the ground. In particular a big thanks to Hawaiian Airlines, Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore, the New Zealand Consulate-General and the Hawaii Tourism Authority for their ongoing support. 

Watch the video