The Gibson-McNeill Household

The Kakariki Street Project has been an incredible journey for us which I’m only just beginning to fully appreciate as we put together our lists of achievements over the past 9 months. I am so heartened by everyone’s efforts and it’s really fantastic to hear that for every effort there has been a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment, and for many of us, the desire to keep on going with the next project and the next… I am especially in awe of those in K.St who have really stepped outside of their usual comfort zone to dare something new – like a change in diet, car-sharing, or even asking to borrow something or for help.  At our house, we have experienced a real shift in our lifestyle which somehow we didn’t anticipate. It’s an unexpected bonus and in many ways its one of the best parts.

Reclaiming the original vege plot from the evil clutches of kaikuyu grass was the first step when we moved here in April 2010

A few weeks later, the garden started to take off











So here’s our list:

We have started keeping chickens and built their coop out of recylced materials… still to be completed is their rainwater collecting roof to provide them with drinking water.

We joined Freecycle and have regularly been getting items from there… it’s a bit fab really! Roofing iron for the chicken coop and our woodshed/storage bays, a food processor and an overlocker which both get shared amongst neighbours and friends.

We have started up a ‘Stitchin & Bitchin’ group meeting to get sewing done and it’s a great social occasion as the name might suggest!

We've had several huge crops of beetroot so it seemed like a good time to learn about preserving

We organised a Clothing Swap evening which was really great and several people who missed out have requested we do it again.

We have installed our first two rainwater collection barrels. They are great and we will be putting in several more before next summer.

We have put in a really simple Greywater irrigation system attached to our washing machine, which now means we never need to water one of our vege plots ever again.

To stop any soapy build up in the soil, we have started using soap nuts… These are literally that; nuts. You put a few in a little bag in the machine with your clothes and they work like detergent. After a few washes, you just chuck them into the compost!

This was an area of lawn full of buried rubbish and old tree stumps. Now it's fertile, plentiful and irrigated with our new greywater system

We are members of the Dry-Foods Co-op for all our grains, nuts, dried fruit, and general bulk foods. The Fresh Co-op for all produce that we can’t grow ourselves. The Organic Meat Co-op and we now host the Detergents Co-op for bulk orders of Eco-Store products.

We have expanded our vege garden to over 65 square meters and help me it’s full! We are now in the process of planting up fruit trees everywhere which is exciting. We have so much in abundance, we share and swap a lot of fresh food and seedlings.

All our landscaping is done with locally sourced, found materials such as seaweed, driftwood logs, sea-wrack mulch, horse manure from the paddocks a few meters from our house, secondhand timber from the neighbourhood, old pallets, packing ply, and secondhand roofing iron.

We compost everything, nothing goes to waste, and nothing organic ever goes to the dump.

We have had our house fully insulated top and bottom and upgraded to a thicker R-value. We have begun insulating the walls in one of our bedrooms and will slowly continue to do this throughout the house.

We have put up thermally backed insulating curtains with good over hangs on either side which is best practice for keeping in the warmth. Luckily, we already have pelmets over almost all the windows, so we are really snug now!

The first place we look for all ‘new’ purchases whether it is furniture, appliances, or toys for the kids, is always TradeMe or at other recycled outlets like the Recycled Building supplies or op-shops.

The one new purchase we made was our bed which is made entirely of organic latex, organic bamboo and organic cotton. The frame was made from sustainably harvested NZ timber. We opted to buy the slightly more expensive one (even though we preferred the look and price of a cheaper one), because it did not contain any MDF like the cheaper bed frame by the same company. So for us it was a compromise on style and price, but not on eco-standards.

We preserve as many fruits and veggies as possible including, making jams, chutneys, pickles, dehydrated fruits and sauces.

We have started digging up our berm and replacing lawn grass with native plants and food crops. This is much better for bio-diversity and gets rid of another area that would otherwise require mowing.

Our front garden started out as a grassy waste of space which required lots of mowing and also felt a bit too open and exposed to the street

The space on both sides of our front fence has become a productive and bio-diverse garden of plenty! The trees will eventually provide a soft visual barrier











We have requested that the council do not use Round-Up spray on our street as it is toxic and pollutes the ground where our children play and the ocean which is just a rain shower away from our front gate.

We did not replace our second car when it died in January. We have managed really well with just the one car and some car-sharing with neighbours. Our car is as small as possible for a family of four and very economical too.

When I first met one of my neighbours Torv, the first thing he said to me was: “If you ever need a bike fixed, just bring it around. If it’s your kid’s bike, send them over with it and I’ll teach them how to fix it themselves”. That’s what he said without really having a clue who we were. It was one of the nicest welcomes to the street I can imagine. Another neighbour Holly fed us almost daily whilst we were busy renovating before we’d even moved in. You can’t beat that for good neighbourhood vibes!

We paddle out in a kayak, spend a couple hours at the beach, have a homebrew beer, and pull in the freshest fish you could ever eat. The adults are happy as are kids who have earned their dinner and we go home for a big shared feed and more homebrew!

We only eat fish that we have caught, very occasional organic meat from the co-op and plan to raise our own chickens for meat. All the fish bones get made into stock and the yucky bits left over from our fishing trips get buried in the garden as fertiliser. We invariably go out longline fishing with our neighbour’s kayak and the other half of the kit belongs to us. It’s almost always a social occasion with our neighbours or friends, and then there’s a pack of kids to haul in the line… followed by a shared meal. Heaven really!

We share all our gardening implements and other tools freely. We in turn get to borrow plenty from others. I am yet to think of a tool that no-one has available to lend me! We all seem to feel really comfortable lending and borrowing from one another. I don’t detect any hesitation which you might expect in other places.

We have had a ‘tool burning’ at one of our recent Gardening Bees. No it’s not some wierd ritualistic behavior, but a way to remove broken handle stumps from inside otherwise perfectly good metal tools -in my case two gardening forks. The new wooden handles just need to be fixed in place and they’re as good as new!

When we began rennovating our house, we used only natural products. the floor was sanded and oiled with Osmo-Polyx HardWax -a 100% natural product. Our interior walls were painted with Bio-Paint which is also 100% natural -and not to be confused with the synthetic paints offered by some big name companies as “green” when really they are only VOC free… they are still essentially a plastic based product.

We are long time Meridian Energy customers, opting to go with 100% renewable energy sourced power production over any other considerations. Unfortunately, cheaper is invariably nastier!

We inherently minimise waste creation by being part of the local co-ops, but we also refuse to buy over packaged products. It’s amazing how precious a glass bottle becomes when your supply of them dries up. We refill our oils, vinegars and detergents and I’m often looking for a bottle to put a freshly made sauce into.

Another batch of home-brew on the go

We brew our own beer! YUM! The only trouble is getting enough down so that you can let it mature before it’s all been consumed. We are now looking for some hops plants so we can take it to the next level.

There has been a spot of distilling too… Deliciously turned into limoncello compliments of one of our neighbour’s over abundant lemon tree.

We have installed a hotwater cylinder insulation wrap and pipes lagging.

We converted our ‘high’ flush toilet cistern to a ‘low’ flush one to conserve water.

We use only 100% recyclable products where ever possible like bamboo toothbrushes and a wooden dish-brush.

We own a small business in Wellington and have decided to make it as sustainable as possible and to off-set any unavoidable carbon offending to become ‘neutral’ by the end of this year.

We had a neighbourhood Guy Falks party at our house, which served two purposes: A. It’s really fun and a great way to boost neighbourhoodly goodness! And B. You only need buy a couple of fireworks each and everyone gets to enjoy it… much reducing wasteful consumption.

I am part of the small team starting up the Kapiti Timebank

We have swapped out any incandescent lightbulbs in our house for energy saving ones

We installed a ventilation fan in the bathroom at the recommendation of the KCDC eco-design advisor who came and did a complete assessment of our house.

Torv fixed up my bike and we now ride around the village. Walking, it takes about 25mins each way to get to the local shop, so previously, we would always drive. Not it’s just a few minutes each way by bike!

Conversations about all the things we can change and dream about changing are on going with so many people, many of them not even part of the K.St group. The competition has given us a focus and a reason to talk about these things. It’s very inspiring to hear everyone’s ideas.

Late in 2010 I attended an information seminar by Phillips about intelligent street lighting and have been in discussion with Jake Roos ever since about getting them put in here in Paekakariki. We hope to have street lights installed that can dim and turn and and off appropriately responding to actual conditions.

We’ve been collecting all the coffee grounds waste from the Beach Road Deli to use on our garden. THey go through a lot of coffee each week, so we were ending up with so many plastic rubbish sacks which could really only be reused a couple of times before they go holes in them. So Holly and I designed and made some material rubbish sacks which should last for ages and we can just wash them out every few uses. The Deli owners are wrapped too because we have turned a waste product into nutrients for our garden, and they will save a pile on rubbish bags and disposal.

The new tailor made bags fit the coffee bin much better than the plastic ones making them easier for staff to use. We're all winning!

Holly made a bunch of material bags to replace the use of plastic ones. She's holding a new cloth one and on the ground is a pile of the old plastic variety











So that’s where we’re at… You should see our ‘To Do’ list – It’s even longer!  😉

Kakariki Street has been a really great journey and we’d recommend it to everyone.

Flo, Mike, Milli, & Harley

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The Bright Household

Green Streeter Steve Bright: Past, present and future.

I left work and the commute to Wellington to work locally. I stopped helping the construction of bland office buildings to design an eco-house and plant trees for a local conservation group. When renovating my own home, I decided to install a wet-back fire, solar water heating, a greywater system and a rainwater catchment system. I insulated the loft with wool. I have sold the TV as there was no time for it. I have placed low energy light bulbs though out the house. I have a garage of tools that I regularly lend out, more often that not with the operator!

Steve built the first raised garden bed in a sunny spot in the garden and plans to grow as much of his own produce and meat as possible

With the success of the first raised bed, Steve couldn't help but keep on going and built a second one alongside it!

During the Green Street competition I have been getting into the garden. A number of veggie beds have been rediscovered and a number of new ones constructed. I have been helping others with their gardens which in turn has helped my learning in this previously black hole in my knowledge. I still have a long way to go on the garden front, but feel I at least know the direction now. I have taken a fresh look at my home and the resources it requires to maintain. Currently in production of decent insulating curtains (and installing pelmets). I have contacted the Sustainability Trust who will be installing underfloor insulation in the next couple of weeks. After seriously weighing up and calculating the carbon footprint of each available transport mode, I took the train instead of flying on a trip to Christchurch.

Steve's engineering skills came in handy when he set up the house with rainwater tanks under the garden, a solar water heater and a wetback fire

In the future the production of food will be ongoing. I have allocated a space for the rearing of chickens and look forward to meeting my meat whilst it is still alive. A share in a (second hand) canoe and long line is next on the shopping list.

Over all the green street experience has been helpful and beneficial in connecting with others and getting things done which otherwise would have been put further down the ‘to do’ list or put off indefinitely. I believe that once the competition has come and gone the Kakariki Street group as a whole or in parts will continue, grow and evolve but head in broadly the same direction, which can be nothing but a good thing. Thanks

Steve B.

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The Rozings

From the beginning the Green Street competition struck us as a great idea, ideally we have always thought to try and tread a bit lighter on the planet, but life and lifestyle sometimes get in the way and ‘old habits die hard!’  For me it has been about a raising of consciousness about the way we live and things we do day to day, number one being the amount of plastic waste coming into our home. One of the great outcomes has been getting to know some of our neighbours better, being able to share skills, produce, materials and knowledge.

Lisa & Torv have installed a 2 000 Litre rainwater tank which they use to water the garden

We installed a rainwater tank about 8 years ago after a very dry summer
and can use this water for our gardens and also have it piped for use in
the greenhouse.  For the main our garden waste is chopped up for
firewood, kindling, mulch and compost.  We have fashioned a grey water
system for laundry and bath run off which works very effectively, whilst
taking pressure of the septic tank.

As far as projects go, we have achieved draft stopping on doors and
windows, installed an HRV to combat damp and utilise roof heat, and this
is proving very effective.  We have set up a new composting system,
built a greenhouse and extended our vegetable growing space and are
currently looking at upgrading our insulation.

Engineering ingenuity with recycled and found materials, Torv has moments of genius!

So still lots to get round to here … my wish list is on going and
includes getting started in existing food co-ops to reduce in coming
waste and trips to the supermarket, more use of local shops becoming a
more effective vege grower and start preserving, more car pooling and
more walking, I will leave it at continuing relationships with all our
wonderful Kakariki Street Neighbours.

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The Van’t hof Household

I went into this project because I like the idea behind it.
For us all to become more aware of the environment we live in and the community around us.
I have been reserved in my participation in community garden bees as just can’t fit it in and am a bit solo like.

I started the summer of stripping the paint of my house with a heat gun, and then preparing it and painting.
This has been a slow process but was hugely rewarding when you stood back to admire.
Unfortunately it was a much bigger job than I anticipated, it is turning into a 5 year project.
But I’m maintaining my home myself.

I have always kept my green rubbish and love my compost bins, very satisfying having it all break down and to reuse on the garden as mulch and compost.

I have 3 vege gardens I am maintaining, these seem to produce something year round.
One big garden bed I’m resting with weeds as the oxalis got the better of me this year.
But soon i feel the inspiration to bring it back to life.

I have double curtained all the bedrooms, and this made a big difference to warmth and sound.

I am also aware of the car trips up to Raumati and Paraparaumu, its a little hard to avoid, with work and childrens commitments.
I did bike to work in Raumati, through the park, and consider myself lucky, must use more!!!

I have joined the fresh and dry co-op, and really enjoying both.

My heating for my home is a woodburner only.

My home already had an under floor tin foil. Its not the best but will do for now.
My ceiling also has batts.

So thank you Flo for being a fantastic co-ordinator and motivator!
I want to continue to improve my slice of paradise, and to met in the middle with great neighbors for a beer and a dance!!

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The Foley Family

Here is the Foley Family’s summary of the  last 9 months of getting greener and greener by the day.

First of all: we love it. We loved being part of it. We loved meeting all of our lovely neighbours. We loved the changes that we incorporated into our life during this time. And we loved all the things we learned.

The Foley's abundant garden of veggies and herbs

So here are some of our highlights:

  • Getting our home insulated. We went with the Sustainability Trust after numerous other companies came to us explaining their products and giving us a quote. ST were the cheapest and have a lovely recycled polyester product that is safe for the people installing it and safe for the people who have to live with it.
  • We attended a few of the Chill-Ed series workshops: fruit tree pruning and bio digester weed drum were my favourites. I also ran my first ever vegetarian cooking workshop as part of the series. It was great fun! Due to high popularity I have organised the next series of seasonal cooking workshops. What a wonderful outcome.
  • We finalised our alternative health clinic based in our backyard. A provision for the local community to access holistic ancient healing based on Ayurvedic principles.
  • Our property now has a thriving medicinal herb garden that produces and supplies locals with natural home remedies.
  • We continue to be part of the Te Ra school co-op where we get 80% of our dry food from.
  • We also still enjoy our weekly delivery of organic fruit and vegetable through Chantal Organics.

The Foley's have created a very tranquil space around their little wellness centre in the back garden

  • We resisted several offers of family members to purchase a second car. It is challenging at times having only access to one car but we manage.
  • Kristen has now been car pooling with 2 others from Paekakariki (1 person from Kakariki St) to and from the Hutt Valley for over 2 years. What an achievement. It means a lot more communication and flexibility is needed regarding starting and finishing times and who is driving when but it is a happy crew.
  • We’re proud of the wide range of fruit and vegetables we harvested and are still harvesting from our garden. We have about 50sqm of land for growing veges.
  • But the best thing really, and I leave it to last were the ultra cool working bees we held every week over summer to this day. What a fantastic way to get your garden back up to scratch, dig into the long awaited project and with 4-5 adult helpers and about 10 children running havoc – these afternoons have been a real blessing in terms of working together and having fun. And of course there is the pot luck dinner afterwards. Thanks to Steve for the yummy vege curry last week!
  • So here we go………lots of achievements – small and big….but what will last forever is the relationships we formed through this competition as it pulled the neighbourhood together striving for a common aim. A unique chance to meet, talk, help and grow together, not just our children but also we as grown ups.

She makes gardening look so good!

We’re still keen to:

  • Get a couple of watertanks
  • Use more greywater on our garden
  • Build the bio digester – super weed killer
  • ….and if money would fall from the sky we would install a few solar panels and a windmill.

Anja, Kristen & Kailash

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The Düssler Household

We have created a wilderness garden down one side of our section, allowing many native plants to seed.  When it gets too full, we pass on these seedlings to friends who want native trees.

Robert (a teacher) cycles to school and back as much as he can, a few times a week, instead of driving or carpooling.

One of the greatest ways to use your kitchen scraps, in a worm farm

We have rejoined the local food co-ops, and are using the supermarket as little as possible.

Our gardens have extended, including a ‘lasagne’ bed.  We created our raised beds from found materials, mostly driftwood from the beach, and filled them with compost we have made.

We have created a very successful worm farm, and we apply the liquid daily rotating around the garden.

We keep chickens and were much helped by attending a workshop about chickens put on by Kakariki street.


The free range veggie plot! The Düssler's make excellent use out of found materials... especially drift wood.

We are planting more fruit trees this winter and are looking forward to having them on the berms in Haumia street.

We have changed to Meridian energy to support their 100% sustainable energy resources commitment.

We are mowing our lawn a lot less and are creating areas where the grass is allowed to grow freely.

This studio/sleepout in the garden is made out of 100% recycled materials, and it is absolutely delightful!

Nearly all our clothes and household items are purchased secondhand.

We have managed to reduce our foodbill by 25% by buying mainly non processed foods

We have avoided using electric heaters and are warming the house with the fireplace and a fan which distributes the heat to the rest of the house.

I could go on and on…. It’s been fun!

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The Gunn Household

What we’ve aways done: Had a vegetable garden, and lots of fruit trees, composted, kept chickens, recycled, used trees off our property to run the fire, HRV system, used energy efficient lightbulbs, shared produce, made preserves.

What we’ve more reently done: Renovated the bedrooms and fully insulated walls and ceilings, double glazing and econoheaters in bedrooms, carpooling – Janine with 2 others and Gunna drives 1-3 others, purchased appliances as recommended by Consumer with good energy ratings, got a worm farm

Since Kakariki Street: Turned appliances off at the wall when not in use, used environmentally friendly cleaning products, purchased gas cylinder in December which lasted until May for hot water (for 4 adults), had a grey water pump installed, we plan our travel to reduce petrol consumption, share tools, reduced the number of meat meals we have each week, put thermal curtains in the lounge and made doorstops to retain heat in rooms, rainwater for our fruit trees, bag and drum composting, hothouse to grow produce, provide firewood to locals, reduced the amount of rubbish we put in the wheelie bin, we generally use more sustainable products, and we are looking forward to using the mulcher and getting fruit trees on our street.

Still plan to: Put in water barrels, Get underfloor insulation

Best part of Kakariki Street: Met some lovely people, with a greeat sence of community

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