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Environmental Advocates

14 July 2023

From Rebecca Percasky and Finn Ross to Brianne West and Oliver Hunt, learn about the Environnmental Advocates UC is showcasing to celebrate our 150th anniversary!

Bridget Williams
Bridget Williams

BA, LLB 2016

Bridget Williams’ passion for active citizenship and helping others was fostered during her time as president of the UC Student Volunteer Army. After practising law for three years, Bridget founded Bead and Proceed – a social enterprise that exists to educate people about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This has allowed her to combine sustainability, creativity, and community. One of the youngest elected Chairs for the Christchurch City Council Community Board, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and selected 30 for 2030 member, Bridget’s fervour for sustainable and creative impact across Ōtautahi and Aotearoa is both infectious and inspiring.

Levi Mutambo

PhD 2020

Moving to New Zealand to complete his PhD, Levi Mutambo considers this work to be the greatest, but most fulfilling challenge of his academic journey. His thesis entitled “Hybrid collectives for effective spatial data infrastructure development in the Global South: Developing a Zambian prototype”, was Levi’s approach to developing a theoretical framework to give agency and confidence to first time community farmers in the Global South, who may be lowly educated and marginalised. In his lecturing role at Copperbelt University in Zambia, his biggest passion is helping his students and grassroots communities achieve their full potential in the location information space.

Deborah Hume
Dr Deborah Hume

BSc 1993, MSc (Hons) 1996

Deborah’s role of National Manager Multimodal Integration at Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency sees her lead a team committed to accelerating change towards a low carbon and integrated transport system with more active and shared mode choices in Aotearoa. By working in partnership with others, her team use their expertise in public transport, walking and cycling, mode shift, land use integration, and rail and freight to tackle step changes in urban form, urban mobility, and climate change. Deb has previously worked with local government to transform public transport and led Wellington Metro and KiwiRail’s tourism brand, Scenic Journeys, through radical reinvention and improvement.

Rebecca Percasky
Rebecca Percasky

BSc 2007

Rebecca Percasky holds a lifelong passion for positive environmental change coupled with a desire to do better business. Previously COO of tech start-up StarShipIT, she worked alongside courier companies and became cognisant of the growing repercussions of the amount of packaging waste being generated. As a result, Better Packaging Co was born in 2018. Rebecca’s now on a mission to combat pollution, poverty, and climate change through packaging. In 2020, Better Packaging launched POLLAST!C packaging made from 100% ocean bound pollution, a world first! She is a Cartier Women’s 2021 Laurette, a finalist in the Inspiring Women’s Leaders NZIBA Awards 2022, SheEO venture, and an Unreasonable Fellow.

Finn Ross

BSc (Hons) 2022 

Currently completing his PhD in Blue Carbon at Deakin University, Finn Ross has always been passionate about nature connection, climate solutions, and building an inclusive and ecologically sound society. Self-described as an “Eco Interpreter”, he co-founded the not-for-profit charity Let Them Fish, as well as companies Bomb Bucha, Future Farmers New Zealand, and Carbonz. Finn is now living on his family farm, Lake Hāwea Station, the first certified carbon-zero farm in Australasia. Reflecting fondly on his time at UC, Finn’s highlights included skiing and surfing in the same day, debates with his 4th-year classmates, and being part of the UC start-up community.

Helen Townsend

BSc, BA 2004

Sustainability and addressing climate change have always been important in the eyes of Helen Townsend. Noticing a lack of sustainable options in the toy industry led to Helen co-founding Sustained Fun – the only toy company in the world that is 100% focused on supporting children through climate anxiety while reducing rubbish and still having fun. In its first year, Sustained Fun’s first toy, the EcoSplat Reusable Balloons, saw enough sold to replace, in their lifetime, over 95 million single-use water balloons. Helen also founded The Rubbish Whisperer back in 2013 to provide easy alternatives to single-use plastics.

Brianne West
Brianne West

BSc 2015

Brianne West started her Bachelor of Science out of interest, not expecting it to be the perfect foundation for her business ambitions. Founder and CEO of Ethique, Brianne has helped to prevent the manufacture and disposal of over 20 million plastic bottles worldwide through her regenerative beauty and lifestyle brand founded in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her success with Ethique has seen her awarded the EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Stuff NZ Women of Influence (business enterprise) award, and be named as an Obama Foundation Leader and Blake Leader. Ethique is now sold in more than 8,000 stores spanning over 22 countries worldwide.

Oliver Hunt

BE (Hons) 2017, MEM 2018 

Medsalv is turning the medical device industry on its head! Oliver Hunt founded Medsalv while studying at UC in 2017, to make healthcare more sustainable. Remanufacturing single-use medical devices that would have otherwise gone to landfill, the company is tackling environmental and financial waste in the health sector, now delivering sustainable healthcare to more than 80% of New Zealand's hospitals. In 2019, Medsalv took out the Business For Good category at the Westpac Canterbury Champion Business Awards and won the Going Circular Award at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards. In 2021 Medsalv was a finalist in the Hi-Tech Awards for Start-Up Company of the Year. Medsalv also holds Zero Carbon and Climate Positive certification, too.

Craig Potton
Craig Potton MNZM

Teachers College Diploma, BA 1973, MA (Hons) 1978

One of New Zealand’s best known and respected landscape photographers, Craig is a passionate conservationist and wildlife activist. Having a love for the natural world since childhood, his work with Forest and Bird culminated in him being honoured as a Distinguished Life Member for the organisation. Based in Nelson, he also served on the City Council for 12 years and has committed considerable time and funds to supporting numerous charities and groups working to protect our ecosystem. Along with opening his own gallery to exhibit his photographic works, he is also a co-owner of a publishing house that has a focus on natural history and the environment. In 2013, Craig was appointed MNZM for services to photography and conservation.

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