Heidi Mardon founded Enviroschools and through this amazing environmental programme has changed the lives of thousands of students throughout New Zealand.
I first met Heidi when she was the driving force, along with Kenton Cox. behind student participation at the Papatuanuku Conference in Taupo in 1993. Never before and never again would students be so involved in the affairs of the Instutute of Architects. Indeed the architects felt so overwhelmed by the energy of the students that on the final night the students were excluded from the closing dinner. A thoughtful architect participant set off the fire alarm so that when the building was evacuated all the dinner guests ended up up outside sharing the student BBQ. The students ended up having the last laugh.
In 1995, when Heidi was one of my students, she went to Nairobi with Megan Howell and Mark Tollemache to attend the Second Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Habitat II Conference in Istanbul. She was remembered for the night she spent in her little tent on a game reserve surrounded during the night by six Masai warriors with spears to ward off any passing lions. You remember the students who embrace life, not those who get their assignments in on time. The University remembers nothing as I somehow forgot to tell the bureaucrats what my students were doing.
Once again, when I was encouraging all my students to participate in the Waitakere Eco-Art Symposium, Heidi rose to the occassion while other students found it all just too difficult. The artists spent a month at the Corbans Estate creating their works. As enthusiasm grew a marquee made it possible to cook on the site and before long people were living there too. From small beginnings some 10,000 people came to the festivities of the opening day. There was food and wine, jazz and even the Pilharmonia. The Corbans Estate Art Centre was born.
When it was all over Heidi was left with bales of hay, wire, posts and all manner of other material. "Zero-waste" in those days was something the students learned about through practice rather than essays. An eco-garden was built at the Green Bay School. None of us knew at the time but Enviroshools was born.
Ten years later more than 500 schools were participating in the Enviroschools programme.
In 2011 Heidi was awarded the inaugural Scroll of Honour by the University of Auckland to acknowledge all that she had achieved in her brilliant career.
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