Saving whales

On 19 January 2014 a team of dedicated volunteers and Department of Conservation rangers teamed together to save a pod of stranded whales. This is the story of that day as shared with us by Daren Grover of Project Jonah.

Hope, concern and camaraderie. These are the three words that for me, sum up the events of January in Golden Bay. The final result of two weeks of work was 46 individual whales successfully refloated and swimming out of Cook Strait. I’d like to share with you one day in particular that gives a perfect example of the complications, the courage and the teamwork required in responding to a stranding.

On that day the Project Jonah team woke pre-sunrise and drove the 10kms to Triangle Flat. Here we met Department of Conservation (DoC) rangers and checked the beach for any sign of the whales which we had refloated the previous day.


Heartbreakingly, right by the entrance to the beach, we found 14 dead whales. A further 5 kilometres along the Spit were 71 whales spread along the high tide line over a distance of 1.5km, of which 8 were dead. My first job was to report back to our Volunteer Coordinator Louisa, who worked tirelessly coordinating trained volunteers to attend the stranding and liaising with the press and media. It’s this ‘behind the scenes’ part of the operation that often can go unnoticed but makes such a huge difference to a stranding response. After doing this, the team got our gear together and 13 of us headed out on the first bus to the stranded whales. We got off the bus when we came across the first whale, while DoC staff headed to the far end of the stranded pod, as there was an injured whale in distress.


Each volunteer was given a shovel, a bucket and about 8 whales each to keep cool. As volunteers continued to arrive throughout the morning, we were able to share the workload and reduce the number of whales that each volunteer was responsible for. I was humbled by the volunteer response we had. Along with the local community, local Project Jonah Medics were joined by Medics who had come from as far as Christchurch and Wellington. We reached the point where each whale had been delegated someone to look after it, but many of the whales were still not upright. We needed a team of strong people to start uprighting the whales. Luckily, 5 minutes later the next bus arrived and out stepped 8 big guys. Perfect! We briefed them and they started working their way through the pod. This made a real difference quite quickly.

As the morning progressed the tide started to come in, with high tide expected just after midday. Farewell Spit has a huge tidal range (up to 6kms in places) and within minutes the sea can travel a few hundred metres. The whales had stranded at the high tide line and it was key to get them buoyant before the tide turned. Once they were free swimming we could guide them into deeper water so that the outgoing tide would draw them off the beach. 

A human chain was formed to walk out and stand between the pod and the beach. As the whales socialised together our efforts were focussed on slowly shepherding them into deeper water. There were also three DoC controlled boats, which manoeuvred themselves between the beach and the pod and continued to monitor the whales closely. As volunteers reached their maximum depths in the water they headed back to the beach and back to Triangle Flat.

The senior Project Jonah Medics and I spent some time collecting and sorting our equipment. When we returned to Triangle Flat many of the volunteers who had worked so hard throughout the morning had left. Among those that stayed there was an air of cautious optimism. At 3pm, it was reported the pod was in deeper water and slowly heading in the direction of Triangle Flat, away from danger.


At 5pm, we were just beginning to relax and we could now see the pod in the distance. Normally when you see a pod of pilot whales from the shore it looks like a group of black dots appearing and reappearing at regular intervals. However, we also saw white dots. This can be an indication of splashing as the whales struggle to swim in shallow water. We radioed the boat who confirmed that some of the whales were indeed struggling and in very shallow water! We got back into our wetsuits and ran the ten minutes to where the whales were stranding.

By the time we reached the first whale, the whole pod had stranded! Many of the whales were thrashing, as they had rolled onto their sides with the force of the tide and were struggling to breathe. I looked around to see how many people we had for these 52 whales. I counted 8. And that’s when my heart sank. What can so few people do for so many helpless animals? We split into pairs and quickly started uprighting the whales so that at least they would be able to breathe until more help came. One whale had struck its head on a rock and was bleeding badly, the water around it running red. Unfortunately this animal died in a few short minutes. There was some concern about the blood in the water as there are plenty of stingrays and sharks in Golden Bay, so we kept a watch on those people working nearby. This was possibly the longest hour of my life. As more people joined us, we managed to stabilise all of the whales.

My feelings of despair were replaced by the hope that these whales would soon have another chance to swim freely.


Returning to the beach this time, the overall feelings of hope, concern, sheer exhaustion and camaraderie really shone out. The sheer effort and selflessness displayed by all those who attended has left me feeling humbled and proud. This is an event that will live long in the memory.

How to launch a publication

A wee bit of an overview as to how The Generosity Journal came to life. In the words of the editor, Pat Shepherd.

Step One – Just start!

In 2005 I had finished studying graphic design and needed a way to get all my music photography out to the world. All the NZ music mags were based in Auckland and I didn't know many people there, so I decided to just create my own mag called Exposure Lifestyles. I gave it away for free, thus creating my own wee media world as a result of an end of year assignment. We created seven issues in the end and interview a variety of people from Shihad to Keisha Castle-Hughes, to Taika Waititi. Taiki even designed the cover art for issue four. This mag taught me the important rule of just starting something!


Step Two – Pick a publication title

I was sitting in the sun with my friend Guy Ryan and yarning about how I had always wanted a publication to be part of One Percent Collective, in order to take our generosity movement into people's hands, not just having stories online. A beer in the sun worked a treat and the idea of The Generosity Journal was born.


Step Three – Find some designers

Through my experience with the design of Exposure Lifestyles and NZ Skier, I knew that it was going to be a challenging role and I wanted to concentrate on content and ideas, leaving the visual delights to someone else. Timing was on my side, the talented creative agency Goodfolk in Auckland, approached us and said they love what we are about and could they help. Amazing, our talented design team was now all set to begin!


Step Four – Gather the troops

I was lucky enough to have a coffee with Rebekah White who has incredible experience in the publishing world, she loved what we were planning and offered her skills as sub-editor. I then bumped into my friend Gina Kiel in a shop in Wellington. "Gina, how would you feel about creating an amazing cover for our first issue?", luckily she said yes and what an insanely amazing cover she created!

Step Five – Plan the content and get going

Rebekah, myself and the One Percent Collective crew got to work on content ideas and started pulling it all together with incredible help from a variety of fine contributors, including Dai Henwood, Gareth Moon, Natasha Vermeulen, Nick Bollinger and more. Realistically I'd say it took us maybe 6 months to put this issue together, which of course is longer than planned, but hey, good things take time!


Step Six – Printing and paper stock

I'm lucky enough to have worked with Lithoprint in Wellington for printing since 2006. They worked with us closely on getting our plans correct as this was no simple job. They kindly introduced us to BJ Ball who offered us discount on the paper stock used. All stock is of course FSC Approved stock, meaning it's from a sustainable source and we have to say, this cover stock is the nicest we have ever felt!

Step Seven – Proofing and final spreads

Once all the challenging design had been finalised by the wonderful crew at Goodfolk, it was then time for Rebekah to run her eyes over to make sure everything is in order and that there isn't a word out of place. For issue one she ended up proofing on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on her return from an overseas trip, yeah we like to roll in awesome last minute styles ;)


Step Eight – Sponsors and distribution

In order to bring a physical print publication to life costs money of course. Rather than selling ad space we instead chose to go for a sponsorship model with six sponsors ideally helping to cover our costs. We got close, so we are more than happy to hear from you for issue two support if you are interested!

These generous sponsors took a risk on supporting a new venture and we owe them a huge thank you. The distribution of the 5,000 publications has been done through targeted shops, cafes and businesses and of course through our sponsors' business location. Seeing people sitting around reading the mag is when all the hard work has paid off and it's time to share the love.

We hope you enjoy the publication, online and offline if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of the 5,000 copies. Thanks for taking the time to read this post, stay awesome. PAT

Faces of Kaibosh

Volunteers are the driving force behind Kaibosh‘s operations here in Wellington. Kaibosh has 80+ volunteers that each mainly work once a fortnight on food sorting and rescue shifts. These regular volunteers work a collective total of 355 hours a month. Every year they collect and distribute around 123,000 kgs of food to 32 charities, this translates to over 28,500 meals a month for those who need it most in Wellington and the Hutt Valley, as well as a monthly reduction of 7,785kg in greenhouse gas emissions.

Volunteers help with a range of jobs – they could be going out with the paid drivers to pick up food from supermarkets, cafes, shops, and the weekend fruit and vege markets, or they could be sorting food back at Kaibosh HQ. Food sorters work in teams of 3-5 either on a midday or evening shift, sorting through food and then distributing it for the organisations to pick up later on as per their daily requirements.

Some recognition of the people that take time out of their day to help Kaibosh do what they do is needed. Matt and Anoushka are in charge of day-to-day things, assisted by the drivers and the wonderful volunteers. We met with a few of the amazing faces behind Kaibosh and asked them what they love most about the charity!

Kaibosh‘s midday food sorting shift is staffed by volunteers from Active, a local group of young people with intellectual disabilities. They‘ve been involved since this shift started over a year ago and are a key part of the Kaibosh team. On the day of our visit, Julie and Michael were assisting the amazing Active volunteers.


Kaibosh are lucky enough to have an incredible amount of volunteers, yet sometimes they need more, learn more at http://www.kaibosh.org.nz/help-us/volunteers. Thanks for the support!

Eco Guardian Interview

Karen Francis believes that every decision we make and every product we buy could be eco-friendly. Eco Guardian source and sell products that maintain an ecological balance, while still looking fabulous. It’s a powerful and purposeful mission statement that Eco Guardian brings to life for consumers who wish to embrace style with a conscience. This company ethos reflects Karen’s wider passion for supporting sustainability in all its wonderful forms. She shares her thoughts with us on the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy and believes that empathy for others is a beacon of hope in our society.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Eco Guardian at present?

We are in set-up mode, so flat out establishing our exclusive eco brands: Proof Eyewear, WeWood watches and Sprout watches. We also have a direct e-commerce website, which focuses on selling these brands and supporting other sustainable brands, including bags, shoes and phone cases, with many more products to come. We are busy establishing stockists around the country. In a nutshell, we are on a mission to give NZ consumers the choice of buying sustainable fashion accessories as quick as we can!


What businesses, organisations or business trends are inspiring you at the moment?

I love how many social enterprises are popping up now. The whole idea of using commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being is just fantastic. It is such a rewarding way of running a business.

The absolute full commitment and no hidden agenda of the likes of Tom’s Shoes, Greenpeace, One Percent Collective, Project Jonah and Sustainable Coastlines are also very inspiring. Businesses that have an embedded pay it forward philosophy in their purchasing structure can fundamentally transform the way we do and think about business, i.e. a shift from maximising individual profits to an orientation towards community and collective impact. 

Businesses and individuals that share insights, knowledge and IP, like Richard Branson. Again this is not about self-oriented success but reaching out to share success with a genuine desire to help others make a positive difference in this world. CEO’s that have undergone a transformation and re-alignment of their personal and business related core values, like Arianna Huffington are inspiring.

I admire businesses like Proof Eyewear that are commercially successful, produce beautifully-crafted sustainable goods, but genuinely care about our impact on the environment and people in need of a helping hand.


What place does generosity have in business?

Generosity can manifest in lots of different ways and permeate all aspects of business. Some examples include: an embedded pay it forward structure that involves and potentially inspires both consumers and also other businesses that you work with, e.g. your accountant, lawyer, web developer, suppliers etc. 

In terms of time and expertise, successful businesses can mentor start-ups, and businesses can also support each other by sharing experiences and IP. Generosity with staff can manifest in flexible working hours and planning professional development. Combining commercial operations with support of charities and local businesses, like providing products for fundraising.


Tell us three things that inspire you and why.

I LOVE everything about David Attenborough. Why?  Because of his pure passion for nature.

Green Ideas magazine because it is not fluffy! It provides substantial and informative articles that don’t shy away from controversy or contentious environmental issues. 

Treehugger.com for its comprehensive range of articles that provide information on many aspects of sustainable living.

Can I have a fourth? Solar power technology because it’s becoming a financially viable option and has enormous potential for homes to be their own sustainable power houses that can not only meet our energy needs but also generate surplus power to share. I can’t wait to be able to pull into my garage and charge my car via our own solar power from the rooftop.