Hawke's Bay Today
Teen hooks top prize for report about ocean waste
Student’s inquiry now set to battle for global honours
Abudding Hawke’s Bay journalist has won a prize for an article exposing the potential effects of fishing “ghost gear” on local sealife.
Havelock North Intermediate student Chloe Croft, 13, is basking in the glory of winning Young Reporter for the Environment (11-14 category) run annually by Keep New Zealand Beautiful to raise awareness in youth about issues of litter and waste.
In winning her category, Chloe’s article is automatically entered into the international version of the competition in 2022, which spans 44 countries.
Chloe said the honour came as a surprise and now has her thinking about a potential career pathway in journalism.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all. I’m really proud and it definitely opened my mind to thinking about journalism as a future for me.”
Havelock North Intermediate principal Julia Beaumont said she was “thrilled” with Chloe and her other students — the school had three podium finishes and two honourable mentions on top of Chloe’s win.
Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson said the school deserved to be congratulated for receiving such a large number of placings in this year’s competition.
In Chloe’s investigative report for the competition, she tackles the effects of commercial fishing equipment on marine life.
“I live in Te Awanga, which is by the sea. I’ve always been interested in the ocean and I wanted to write about something that not a lot of people know about,” she said.
Chloe wrote that many tonnes of ghost gear is removed from the ocean each year, including fishing nylon and bait packaging, and she notes there’s the potential for it to become the largest threat to local marine life and their habitat in Aotearoa.
“It’s not a big issue right now in Hawke’s Bay, it is more around the rest of the world, but it will affect us soon,” she said.
Chloe was in the class of Sally Burch, a Year 7 and 8 teacher, who every a week on Wednesday, led them in researching and writing stories about the environment, with the only guideline being that the topic must involve plastic waste.
From there the students had “free rein” over their articles, with support from Burch as to how to structure their stories and connect them with sources.
“It was very much all their own work and a reflection of them,” Burch said.
Students Teo Gairdner, James Maxwell, and Bailey Meredith received third placings in the competition, and Audrey Anna Robin and Camille Howie received honourable mentions.