2022 Semi-Finalists

Brianne West (Christchurch)

Brianne West

Brianne West is a New Zealand entrepreneur and founder of Ethique, the world's first regenerative beauty and personal care brand. With a background in biochemistry, she's shown that beauty doesn't have to be wasteful, and is passionate about protecting and restoring our environment. Ethique’s first solid bar products were formulated in Brianne’s kitchen and are now sold in 4,000 stores across more than 20 countries. In the past year she has launched a series of concentrates, recognising that most cleaning and haircare products are made up mainly of water (60-95%), and that transporting these products around the world is contributing seriously to greenhouse gas emissions. A generous mentor and coach, she shares the ethos that business should benefit everyone involved in the process - not just shareholders. She was named a ‘Top 100 Global Thinker’ by Foreign Policy magazine in 2016, the 2019 NZ EY 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year' and One Young World's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020.

Professor Bronwyn Hayward MNZM (Christchurch)


Professor Bronwyn Hayward is an internationally acclaimed expert on sustainability, and climate change. Her research focuses on the intersection of sustainable development, youth, climate change and citizenship. She is Professor of Political Science at the University of Canterbury, and Director of the University's Sustainability and Civic Imagination research group: Hei Puāwaitanga. She is the first political scientist and only New Zealand author on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C. Her work has helped shape the public’s understanding of climate change, particularly the implications for younger generations. Her pioneering research examines how to support youth through local and global environmental change. Professor Hayward was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2021 for services to political science, particularly sustainability, climate change and youth, and she was a 2019 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero.

Charmaine Bailie (Auckland)


Charmaine Bailie (Te Uri o Hau - Ngati Whatua ki Kaipara) has been an inspirational ecologist, ethnobotanist and an active community leader for more than 20 years. Her voluntary work has had a demonstrable and profound impact on communities and the land. Charmaine led the establishment of Ōkahu Rākau nursery and restoration of Whenua Rangatira in Ōrākei. This is the largest urban, Māori-led restoration project in Aotearoa, and has become a template for others to learn from. An ecological lead working on the Ara Tūhono Pūhoi to Warkworth highway, Charmaine’s knowledge and influence has enriched 1.2 million trees planted along 18km of motorway. Working on Motutapu Island with Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki, Charmaine has helped establish a nursery, developed a kaitiaki team and plan for the planting of 120,000 natives on Hukanui Pā. Charmaine works with multiple Iwi and nursery programmes such as the Kaipara Moana Remediation, which aims to restore 20 million native plants.

Courtney Davies (Auckland)


Courtney Davies is a stand-out leader in the agricultural, environmental and governance space. Untreatable mastitis in her own cattle led her into microbiology at Massey University, graduating with Distinction with a Master of Natural Sciences. At 19 she established Northern Agricultural Youth, a space for young people in the agricultural industry to connect, learn and grow their skillset. Having remotely taught more than 5,000 youth throughout developing African nations, Courtney champions sustainable international agricultural advancement through education, now working at BLAKE as the Programme and Logistics Manager. She was the only invited international delegate to present her research at the SEA-PHAGES symposium in the USA and has attended the APEC Voices of the Future Summit in Peru. With a passion for combining governance with outreach, she is undertaking her third degree, an MBA, and was the youngest person ever to be elected onto the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society Executive.

Deborah Manning (Auckland)


Lawyer turned social entrepreneur, Deborah Manning always knew she wanted to make a positive difference to the world. Ten years ago, she left her career to find a solution to New Zealand’s dual problems of food insecurity and food waste and launched KiwiHarvest. Over time, KiwiHarvest expanded across Aotearoa and rescued more than 6.6 million kilos of edible nutritious food. Which was then redistributed to families in need, avoiding 17.5 million kilos of carbon equivalent emissions from landfill. However, to connect food supply with food demand required better storage and nationwide infrastructure. Her solution was to establish the New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) which now helps join the dots between those able to supply donated food and those needing it. Since launching in July 2020, the NZFN has redistributed over 3.9 million kilos of food to foodbanks, iwi and food rescues countrywide. Together, KiwiHarvest and the New Zealand Food Network have provided food for more than 28 million meals to people in need across Aotearoa.

Hayden Smith (Auckland)


In 2002 Hayden Smith (Ngai Tahu) established Sea Cleaners, an extraordinary non-profit organisation removing rubbish from New Zealand’s coastline. Helped to run on the energy of a large volunteer team, and with ten small boats that sail out into the harbours stretching from Northland to Auckland five days a week, Sea Cleaners has removed over 120 million pieces of rubbish from our oceans. Hayden and his team don’t just collect the rubbish, he constantly works alongside local governments and corporations to develop better ways to recycle and reduce waste. Education plays a huge part of Sea Cleaners’ work, with Hayden regularly speaking with schools, communities and at conferences. He is the only recipient of the Clearwater Award outside of the USA for his work in engaging communities to help clean-up the environment, and he was a 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero. Sea Cleaners was chosen as the official legacy partner of Emirates Team New Zealand and the Americas Cup for 2021.

Jacqui Forbes (Raglan)


Jacqui Forbes (Ngāruahine, Ngāti Tama, Maniapoto, Ngāti Paoa) is the Kaihautu Matua (General Manager) for Para Kore Marae Incorporated, which educates and advocates from a Māori worldview for a world without waste. Para Kore was established in 2008 and Jacqui has led it since its first days, growing a kaupapa Māori, zero waste education movement across Aotearoa. Jacqui has brought together a team of educators who have delivered workshops and connected with more than 400,000 people throughout the country; topics such as composting, food sovereignty, circular systems, DIY environmentally friendly products, Ikura (waste-free periods), gardening and micro-greens are all taught. Para Kore also distributes free recycling crates, wheelie bins, bilingual signage, compost bins and runs support groups to help others implement sustainable systems. More than 500 marae, kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, organisations and events have been supported through Para Kore and Jacqui’s mahi.

Joe Youssef (Auckland)


Joe Youssef (Nga Puhi) is the founder and Chief Encourager of All Heart NZ Charitable Trust. All Heart NZ partners with corporates to practically Redirect & Repurpose their redundant and unwanted items. Their Reduce service helps to further develop the sustainable, ethical and social aspects of procurement. Their simple and cost effect solution repurposes office equipment, e-waste, end of line / end of life stock, construction waste, any items a business no longer needs. Selling these through their All Heart Stores, or gifting directly community need provides the greatest social and environmental impact for their corporate partners. As a result of the work of All Heart NZ, a total of 3,308,862kgs of corporate “waste” has been diverted from landfill, supporting 364 communities and creating $8,500,385 of social impact. Joe and his team have consistently pursued opportunities to partner with corporates in their sustainability and procurement efforts, and currently works with OfficeMax, Westpac, The Warehouse Group and Auckland Transport amongst many other New Zealand businesses. Joe received the 'Growing the Movement' award at the recent Zero Waste Awards, recognising his significant contribution to raise awareness and inspire change in the behaviour of large businesses.

Kaya Freeman (Wellington)


Kaya Freeman’s determination and values helped launch Forest & Bird Youth (F&BY). The Youth Network of Forest & Bird is a nationwide network of young people committed to protect and restore Aotearoa's wildlife and wild places. Kaya was F&BY’s National Co-Director from 2017-21. From the age of 6, Kaya knew that her life’s purpose was to protect the planet and its inhabitants. Her dedication has helped run successful projects such as the on-going restoration of an 80 hectare reserve in Auckland, but she is also known for her support and interest in growing new leaders. Kaya’s efforts to upskill her team through one-on-one mentorship and leadership training has created a burgeoning network of new, young leaders. In the last year F&BY has grown significantly, with an additional four regional hubs springing up and making positive change communities. In June 2021, Kaya was elected into a position on the Forest & Bird Board.

Sam Gibson (Gisborne)


Sam Gibson is an avid conservationist and communicator about wild places. A biological scientist, Sam believes in order to understand our ecosystems we must observe and collect data throughout all seasons, investing time in research. Using matauranga Māori and Western ecological thinking, Sam has developed new monitoring methodologies that use traditional mahinga kai species such as Pikopiko and Kareao tip abundance, Tawa and Kohia fruit as well as the condition of introduced species such as trout and deer as indicators of ecosystem health and tools to monitor deer, possum and rat impact as well as find high quality Whio habitat. He has worn many hats over the years, including working for DOC, Cape Kidnappers Sanctuary, Goodnature and NZ Landcare Trust. A knowledgeable and inspiring speaker, he is regularly approached to present at conferences and is a sought-after student mentor. He is a founder of the Eastern Whio Link project, which alongside Matawai Marae, is successfully combining matauranga Māori and Western ecological practice to return 25,000 hectares of public conservation lands to a state of abundance and biodiversity.


Category criteria

To be eligible for this award, the nominee must have taken tangible action with proven impact towards protecting and restoring nature and the natural environment in Aotearoa.

Nominators should consider talking about the following areas in their nomination:

  • THE NOMINEE: Describe the person (or group) you are nominating and what they’ve done to inspire you over the past year to nominate them as the Department of Conservation and Ministry for the Environment New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year Te Toa Taiao o te Tau.
  • PURPOSE: How does the environment benefit from the mahi, contribution, or influence of this person/group - and how?
  • COMMITMENT: Describe the commitment of time, risks, and challenges overcome to create an impact to this point (this may still be ongoing). What have they done that has gone above and beyond to show leadership, creativity/innovation, and create change?
  • PROVEN IMPACT: How has this person or group clearly demonstrated a positive impact to the environment* (particularly over the last 12-months)? How has this been measured?
  • LONG-TERM IMPACT: If known, how does the nominee plan to grow and/or adapt their work, contribution, or influence in the future? How would winning this award impact this person/group and the work that they are doing?

* What do we mean by positive impact to the environment? A nominee may be working towards reducing the impacts of: Climate change, air and water pollution, water scarcity, food insecurity, deforestation, rising sea levels, loss of species and habitat biodiversity, or loss of indigenous environmental knowledge and traditions. Or working in protection and restoration such as driving social change for the benefit of the environment, restoring lands and waterways or pest management.

Conditions of Entry

“Aotearoa New Zealand is an amazing place. Our natural environment is fundamental to our wellbeing and our identity as New Zealanders. All communities have a part to play to ensure its future. The Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment are proud to celebrate the heroes leading the way with this essential mahi to make sure te taiao endures and thrives, now and for generations to come.”
Lou Sanson and Vicky Robertson
Director-General Department of Conservation and Chief Executive and Secretary Ministry for the Environment