SpinningTop Interview

NZ-based charity SpinningTop is taking Kiwi generosity to the world by giving balance to vulnerable children living in poverty, whose lives have been thrown off balance through war, oppression, natural disaster and circumstances beyond their control. Barrie Thomas is the Director of The Body Shop NZ, a trustee for SpinningTop and was part of the team that brought SpinningTop to life.


You are involved in making the life of vulnerable children better, what a great reason to get out of bed in the morning! What got you involved in this great work?

Well, it all comes back to my belief about the role of business in society. The traditional view is that the only responsibility business has is towards its’ shareholders, and maybe to their employees. I believe that businesses have an equal responsibility to the communities in which they operate and so, to me, the problems facing society also face business and business needs to help find solutions. I like to say that business is part of society, not a part from society.

Once I became aware of the needs of refugee families from Burma it was a small step to use the resources of The Body Shop to help them and SpinningTop was the result.


Tell us about special moment you have had with your involvement in SpinningTop.

My first visit to Mae Sot several years ago to see the schools SpinningTop was working with was very special. It was special to see so many people working for the good of their community and it was amazing, and humbling, to see just how much they could achieve with so little.

One Percent Collective donors have given almost $7,000 since last November to SpinningTop to help you reach your goals. Tell us about the great work you have been doing in Samoa and the Thai/Burmese border.

We have been working on the Thia/Burma border for over 7 years and have seen huge changes in that time. In recent years we’ve been very excited with the introduction of an agricultural project at a boarding house for 240 children that we support. It’s essential that the children learn these skills, as one day it’s very likely that they will return to Burma and many will be involved in agriculture. The project also lowers food costs for the boarding house. We have a number of other projects in the area and at present, we are funding the build of a school for 120 children in the jungle of Burma.

In Samoa, nutrition is again our main focus, we are looking at how to lower the food costs for the victim support shelters we support. The children in these shelters are victims of abuse, they are looked after well at the shelters, yet food funding is always a struggle. We currently have two volunteers from Kiwi band Minuit, volunteering at the shelters, building gardens and working on the food situation.


How can people get involved with SpinningTop?

The simple act of donating has such a powerful impact in the areas we work in. It costs only 13 cents per meal to provide the nutritious vegetables which give the children in Thailand the energy for their school day. This means that even a donation of $5 a week can make a huge difference to the lives of these kids. The Body Shop staff have been an incredible example of this sort of support, with 65 of them now donating $5 or more a week to help with food costs in Thailand. It makes me proud to see the staff following our values with their own personal donations to SpinningTop.

Donate your 1% to SpinningTop here.

Kaibosh Interview

Kaibosh collects surplus food from food retailers and redistributes it amongst Wellington charities that are working with people who are in need or who are struggling to make ends meet.


You are working towards two awesome goals: Zero Food Poverty and Zero. What got you involved in this great work?

I first had the privilege of being involved with Kaibosh from the recipient charity side of things when I was previously working with the Wellington City Mission.

One of the challenges that The Mission had was to regularly get reasonable volumes of  fresh fruit and vegetables into food parcels due to cost and also issues of storing perishable goods.

With the arrival of Kaibosh several years ago, and then with its subsequent growth,  I saw their work of rescuing and redistributing food start to make a massive tangible benefit to those who otherwise would have gone without. Five years ago in Wellington you would have struggled to find food parcels filled with fruit and vegetables, now you'd struggle to find them without.

When an opportunity came to join the team and help to further and expand the work. I jumped on board.


Tell us about a special moment you have had working with Kaibosh.

One of the most exciting times was when we won the Supreme Award at the National Community Awards earlier this year. There are so many people that put so much effort and energy into making Kaibosh work - volunteers, charities, food donors, funders, trustees and staff - and I felt that this award was a real recognition of all of the collaboration energy that keeps the wheels of Kaibosh turning. It was great that everyone's amazing effort was so positively and publicly recognised.

One of the day-to-day things that gives me a huge amount of personal satisfaction of being a part of the Kaibosh team is when we are able, at very short notice, to assist recipient organisations who themselves may be finding it difficult to supply food to their struggling clients. When requested, we are usually able to respond really quickly now and to make sure that the charities we support have adequate volumes of appropriate food to supply to their clients. That tells me that our system of food rescue is working to keep quality, usable food out of landfill and into hungry stomachs. And all at no cost to the charities or their clients.


One Percent Collective donors have given $3897 since July to Kaibosh to help you reach your goals. Tell us about the great work you and the volunteers have been doing.

Our service is continuing to grow, both in the volumes of food we rescue and in the number of charities we supply to. We have been gearing up, for some time, for an expansion into the Hutt Valley and this is finally starting to happen. We are currently supplying a number of Hutt Charities from our base in Wellington City but have big plans to markedly increase the service up there... watch this space!

Kaibosh has been working with a number of other agencies around New Zealand, and assisting them with their goals to establish working food rescue services. In the past 12 months we have been involved with groups in Hamilton, Wanganui, Tauranga, the Wairarapa and Dunedin. It is great to see the level of interest and enthusiasm for food rescue services in these other areas and we are sharing our knowledge and experiences wherever possible.

Kaibosh is currently rescuing and redistributing around 10,000 kg  of food each month with 108,862 kg rescued over the past twelve months. This is quality food which otherwise would have unnecessarily ended up in landfill.


How can people get involved with Kaibosh?

Kaibosh relies hugely on the assistance of volunteers to keep our operation running. We currently have around 85 people who regularly help out, in  a variety of different roles.

If you are keen to get on board and share a couple of hours a fortnight to help us out, please drop us a line at volunteer@kaibosh.org.nz. We look forward to hearing from you!

Donate your 1% to Kaibosh here.

Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre Interview

Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre helps children and young people with a wide range of special needs, including those with physical, intellectual, developmental, behavioural and emotional issues. It is New Zealand’s only music therapy centre. We talked to Director Carol White about what is happening in her world.


The power of music is a beautiful and therapeutic thing that can be channeled for good. What drew you to get involved with Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre?

I was tired of working in the corporate world and was looking for something new to motivate and inspire me, and to utilize the skills and experience I have gained in my career to date. The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre was that something I was looking for. As the only music therapy centre in New Zealand, it is a very special and rewarding place to be. We work with over 200 children and young adults every week and through music therapy, we are able to change the lives of each and every one of them.


Tell us about a special moment you have had working at Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre.

There have been many special moments during my tenure here, so it is hard to choose just one. I see children who are so happy to be here, run up the steps and in the front door every day. Several come into my office to say hello if they are able to or just stand next to me to let me know they are here. The smiles and delight on a child’s face when they see their therapist and in their sessions when they hear music or touch an instrument and make a sound. And for the children with physical challenges, watching them learn to hold, grasp, stand and even walk a step or two has been truly memorable.


One Percent Collective donors have given $9769 since last November to  help you reach your goals. Tell us about the great work you and your staff have been doing.

We are now working with around 200 children and young people every week either at the Centre or via Outreach programmes. The Centre in Grey Lynn now opens until 5.30pm one evening a week and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm to enable more children and young people an opportunity to access music therapy. In August we launched an Outreach programme in the Titirangi community hall in West Auckland one day a week and hope to provide more of these Outreach programmes in other communities in the greater Auckland area. The funds from One Percent Collective have contributed towards the cost of providing music therapy to these new children and young people and will continue to do so into 2014.


How can people get involved with Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre?

As we receive no statutory funding from the government we are always looking for new and creative ways of fundraising for the Centre. We are very appreciate of organizations and individuals who wish to fundraise for us by holding events of any shape or size. If you have an idea for event please get in touch with me, as we can provide marketing materials and support to this.

We have also  just recently launched our online Micro Scooter promotion so anyone who is looking to replace or purchase  a scooter or accessory in the next few months, should do so via this promotion. Not only do you help the Centre by doing this (RMTC get 20% from each sale) but you also get a 10% discount of any online purchase as well.

And mid this year we launched our support a child initiative, where individuals, businesses or organizations can support a child in need, by contributing to the costs of their music therapy sessions for a few weeks, a few months or longer. We are currently working with 20 children who get fully subsidized music therapy sessions, so any help in contributing to this is gratefully received. More information about our support a child initiative and other ways to support the Centre including payroll giving and donating online are available here.

Donate your 1% to Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre here.

Sustainable Coastlines Interview

Sustainable Coastlines exists to show some love to our coasts. Their projects motivate volunteers and communities around Aotearoa and the Pacific to look after the coastlines we all love.


You are fighting the good fight on behalf of our beautiful ocean. What got you involved in this great work?

I love surfing and freediving for kaimoana.  When I was doing this in the Galapagos Islands we came across hideous amounts of plastic that had washed up from overseas.  It was killing endemic animals and was obviously wrong. So we decided to do something about it and started picking it up.


Tell us about special moment you have had working with Sustainable Coastlines.

There's too many to name really, but receiving a song from Wymondley Road School who came out from Otara to Aotea/Great Barrier Island with us to clean up and knowing that it was the first time most of them had ever been to the beach was pretty cool.  Other standouts would include spending an hour up close in the water with a humpback whale mother and calf the same week that we removed 50 tonnes of rubbish from the coast of the Ha'apai Islands in Tonga and getting a big tube at cloud break during a work trip wasn't bad either.


One Percent Collective donors have given over $5,000 since last November to Sustainable Coastlines to help you reach your goals. Tell us about the great work you and the volunteers have been doing.

Since last November we have educated 17,303 people.  These people have ranged from 5 year olds, to offenders to people from the United Nations who are developing the Global Partnership for Marine Litter, where our suggestion of using open sourced tools was adopted internationally.

We started measuring behavioural change through surveys with professional psychologists and are proud to confirm what we always suspected - that the educational presentations are having a big impact right where it needs to happen.

We have also motivated 4,201 people to get up off their arse and remove 50,582 litres of rubbish from the coast (nearly five tonnes which is heaps considering that most of it is single-use plastic which is really light).

2013 has also seen us ramp up our work on restoring waterways and we ran an epic event in Raglan, where we have transformed a large peninsula through educating and then managing Community Probation Service workers, then planting it out with the local school and volunteers.  The wide-ranging outcomes from this event (among others) has resulted in me making the call to focus largely on working in prisons in 2014 - there are so many people who need to rebuild their pride and we are finding ways to give them that chance while also benefiting our communities, waterways and coastlines.


How can people get involved with Sustainable Coastlines?

The first thing they can do is love their own coastlines.  Everything ends up down there, so if we love them, then we shouldn't let anything dirty them.  This means not dropping rubbish, or pouring paint down the drain, or dirty water from the car wash - these are easy things.  Otherwise, people should come along to one of our events, or the workshops where we teach people how they can get up and make a difference effectively, all of which they can find on www.sustainablecoastlines.org.

Cinzah Seekayem

Cinzah Seekayem is a freelance Artist/ Illustrator/ Professional Mess Maker. He works in a diverse practice which ranges from creating large scale public mural installations through to fine art based Gallery shows and Illustration.


What’s happening in the world of Cinzah Merkens at present? 

A few projects on the go, working on a number of commercial illustration jobs, working towards another solo exhibition, and a couple of little group shows here and in Oz. Making a giant 3d installation for a bar exhibition/clubnight event, painting a few murals, looking forward to being a dad second time around, and right now... drinking my third coffee for the day to get through this list.


Describe the most generous person you know. How have they influenced you?

l'd probably have to say my Grandma. She's always been extremely supportive of all of her grandchildren, no matter what their up to, even if she has know idea what the hell it is we are doing.

She's one of those lovely ladies that when growing up, for xmas, instead of the usual 10 bucks in a tacky card, would give you a xmas card letting you know you were sponsoring a kid in Africa, or just bought a village a water well, or a family a goat. I've learnt a lot from her warmth and compassion towards loved ones and complete strangers alike.


Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated?

Making art. It enriches an environment, adds joy and pleasure to the otherwise mundane. It's meditative and therapeutic, can create an income and makes you think.


Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why?

  • Community, small groups of people doing what they love for the sake of it, going out and just getting stuff done rather than waiting for things to come to you. My community within the arts circle provide constant support, feedback, and criticism (whether thats good or bad).
  • Family.
  • And a good cup of coffee.


Paora Apera aka P Digsss

Paora 'P Digsss' Apera is the vocal vanguard of beloved Kiwi band Shapeshifter. He lives out in Muriwai Beach, northwest of Auckland but spends most of his time touring Aotearoa and abroad, taking Shapeshifter’s unique live mix of drum and bass, electronica, soul, jazz and rock to the adoring masses. When he’s not busy with his music, he’s giving back to his community and is a passionate advocate for one of our partner charities, Sustainable Coastlines, helping them motivate volunteers and communities around Aotearoa and the Pacific to look after the coastlines we all love. 


What’s happening in the world of P Digsss?

Right, on this hand, the past three months of my life I've been touring with Shapeshifter across NZ and AUS promoting the release of our new album DELTA. Touring is epic. Even after 14 years as Shapeshifter we still love it. You would hope after all those years you got something right and that's touring … we got it dialled. Always fun times to be had.

On the other hand, I've been fitting in surfing, skating and snowboarding in Japan, riding the illest powder with my bro Sambora from Shapeshifter and your own bad self (Pat). Been dj'n a lot more this year and learning how to use the Maschine from native instruments to make my own beats. Mad fun. Tricky but mad fun. At the same time I have a great passion for Ducati motorcycles. I have three at present. Nearly every spare minute I have will be engrossed in my bikes. It’s crazy at times … if it wasn't for the band I’d be spending all my time tinkering away, polishing and just staring at the bloody things till the wee hours. 


Name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated.

It's almost like a simple hello has become underrated these days but pop a fine as smile on your dial while delivering it. Boom. Happy days and that helps make a better world right.


Describe the most generous person you know and how they influenced you.

Of course family come first. My mother who birthed me of this physical existence … always giving, unconditionally loving. Generous people come into life in waves. My bro Downtown will go out of his way for friends - it’s bloody inspiring. My flatmate Kpz inspires me on a daily basis. That's life really. Surround oneself with inspirational characters and be a big old sponge. 


Tell us three things that inspire you and why. 

  1. Fresh falling dry snow and the promise of riding bottomless powder runs through trees all day.
  2. Perfect peeling 4-6ft surf outside my window in summer or any empty brand new skate bowl, that'll do it.
  3. Riding my super bike on epic roads across our country is up there.

Yeah all of the above laced with a heavy dosage of music of course. Boom. Let’s ride.


Take 2 minutes to join P Digsss and the many others who believe in the work of Sustainable Coastlines, by reading about their work and donating your 1% to them here.

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