JGINZ Trailblazers

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and local high school student, Maya Fier were awarded the inaugural recipients of the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand Trailblazer award. 

The awards, launched to coincide with Dr. Jane Goodall’s tour of New Zealand, were created to recognise New Zealander’s who shared Jane Goodall’s trailblazing spirit, and are having a positive impact for animals, people and the environment. 

“Dr. Goodall is often quoted for her belief that each and every person makes a difference, and it’s this basis upon which the Jane Goodall Institute was founded,” says CEO and Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand, Dr. Melanie Vivian. 

“We know that with the challenges we are facing ahead of us, with the climate crisis, inequality and loss of biodiversity, there is a real need for leaders who can inspire others. The launch of these awards is about recognising those individuals who are setting the sort of example for positive change that Dr. Goodall has in her early research, and today as a passionate advocate for hope and action.”

Both recipients were presented with their awards at a ceremony at Government House by Dr. Goodall. 

As one of the youngest politicians in New Zealand’s history, Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has built a profile as an involved and passionate advocate for issues related to the wellbeing and the environment. The judging panel also noted the work she had done to make engagement in politics more accessible to young people. 

Ms Swarbrick was thrilled to learn of her award. “Growing up, Jane Goodall was the real-life version of Captain Planet. She showed that “change” shouldn’t be left up to somebody else, and that we can’t wait for some mythological hero to swoop in and save the day - we’ve all got to muck in. Her work to bridge the growing gap between people and the planet we live on is the kaupapa I’ve grown up on, and I’m privileged to have a platform to try and realise that everyday.”

Sixteen-year-old Paraparumu College student Maha Fier, was the recipient of the Roots & Shoots Trailblazer Award—given to an individual under the age of 20.

Maha impressed the judging panel with her commitment to, and involvement in, conservation initiatives.

“A consistent theme in Maha’s involvement is a focus on leading creative new thinking, and bringing others along on the journey with her,” explains Dr Vivian.

“She heads her school’s Societal, Environmental and Animal Rights Action Group (SEAR), which organises volunteering and project opportunities for students, and amongst many things was also project manager and designer for the groups ‘SEARbot’ project—a beach cleaning robot as a way to not only physically pick up rubbish off our beaches, but to educate people about ocean pollution.

"Knowing how much Dr Jane Goodall has changed the way we view conservation and animals it's incredible that one of my biggest inspirations is awarding me. A lot of what I do comes down to firstly being inspired by conservationists like Jane Goodall and the work that is currently being done to help our planet, so it's an absolute honour to be awarded something under her name", expressed Ms Fier.

Dr. Goodall impressed on those gathered at the reception at Government House that we need hope, inspiration and action – action now and action together.

“I like to think of the challenges we face as a planet being like a jigsaw and currently the jigsaw is very black indeed. But in local communities here in New Zealand and around the globe action is being taken and as it is a puzzle piece turns green and this is happening more and more the puzzle is becoming greener.

“It was an honour to recognise two young New Zealander’s who are making a difference to that puzzle, and in doing so are inspiring change and action from others.”