Southern Cross Matariki

Southern Cross Healthcare staff from across Aotearoa celebrate Matariki with volunteer rubbish clean-ups

Thursday , 13 June 2024 by Carolyn Brooke

To mark Matariki, the Māori New Year, Southern Cross Healthcare employees from around the motu will hit beaches and other open spaces this winter weekend, volunteering their time to pick up rubbish and dispose of it responsibly.

Nanette Aratema (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa), who is Southern Cross Healthcare’s Kaimahi for its Auckland wholly-owned hospitals as well as national Kaiārahi (Māori Ambassador), said the initiative brings together two of the organisation’s core responsible business pillars, environmental sustainability, and commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Matariki remind us of our deep connection to te taiao/the natural world and highlights our responsibility as tāngata/people to care for the planet, so it only makes sense that the two are celebrated together,” Aratema said.

“We want to encourage our people at Southern Cross Healthcare to find celebration in both Matariki and the environment through them making a small, yet meaningful, impact for communities in Aotearoa.”

All stars in the Matariki cluster represent health and wellbeing of people and the environment, Aratema said.

“Each whetu/star within the Matariki cluster represent different aspects of wellbeing and environment. It’s also important to acknowledge that in parts of Aotearoa, Matariki cannot be viewed because of location. However, Matariki is still celebrated, and iwi look for Puanga/Puaka as signs of the arrive of the Māori New Year,” she said.

“With some of our clean-ups taking part at beaches and waterways, we especially want to acknowledge how two of the stars of the Matariki cluster represent water. Waitī is the star associated with the health of freshwater bodies and Waitā is the star associated with the health of the ocean. Looking after the health of ocean and waterways is so important and this includes encouraging our people to do their best to prevent rubbish ending up in our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams, and in the end affecting all of us.”

Southern Cross Healthcare’s Head of ESG and Responsible Business, Greg Nelson agrees the clean-ups bring together the connection between Matariki and the health of the environment. He said Southern Cross Healthcare is focused on reducing its impact on the environment.

“It’s ironic that in trying to keep humans healthy, the hospital system generates quite a bit of waste, so at all our locations we are trying to reduce this output and our resulting impact on the environment,” Nelson said.

“Every day we’re working to recycle more plastics, repurpose single-use items and to reduce energy consumption at our wholly owned hospitals. We’re very aware that we need to play our part by taking care of our own environment and then see what we can do in partnership with all our people that’s effective beyond that.”