The PURE (Plastic Use Resistance Education) tour was a collaborative project between Massey University, the Algalita Foundation of California, Para Kore, Okeanos and the Los Angeles-5 Gyres Institute. The project was powerful because it connected indigenous science and Western science. Many of the strengths of the project came from te ao Māori guiding principles.
Cutting-edge science was performed on board a waka. The team collected plastic debris as they travelled the length of the North Island, quantifying the levels of plastic in our oceans. The data collection expedition translated to meaningful solutions at a community level because it involved stopping into communities to share knowledge about plastic pollution and ways to move towards para kore (zero waste).
The waka was welcomed by the local community, which helped the group engage through citizen science and seminars. As more communities develop knowledge of the problem it helps to start a national conversation about the importance of protecting our environment.
Fish nets lost in the ocean. Photo credit: PURE
Strong relationships were cemented between the groups and the collaborative nature of the project meant that there was sharing of science disciplines and skills. These foundational relationships have helped the project evolve with the co-design of waka-specific microplastic trawls ready for future expeditions.
Marcus Eriksen from the 5 Gyres Institute wrote about his experience on the PURE tour in a National Geographic article.