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Switch ups for sustainability the focus of new MOTAT exhibition

MOTAT’s newest exhibition Switch Up: Sustainable Solutions is on show until March 2023 and sees the museum partnering with community action groups and 15 of the most exciting sustainable commercial enterprises in Aotearoa.
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MOTAT’s newest exhibition Switch Up: Sustainable Solutions is on show until March 2023 and sees the museum partnering with community action groups and 15 of the most exciting sustainable commercial enterprises in Aotearoa.

“Working alongside all of these businesses and community groups has enabled us to make Switch Up a fully immersive, future-focused experience,” explains MOTAT Exhibition Curator Karla Bo Johnson.

“When visitors arrive they will each be given a digital (NFC) tag, on a recycled cornfibre lanyard. They’ll then be invited to register as one of four special character profiles and then they’re ready to embark on a problem-solving digital adventure ‘in character’ to become a ‘Switcher-Upper’.

We recognise that tamariki are already well versed in this kaupapa, and they’ll be the ones taking the lead around living sustainability into the future. Switch Up will surround them and their whānau with inspiring Aotearoa businesses and community leaders who will show them how to live more sustainably, now.”

Switch Up is targeted towards 9–13-year-olds and their families, but the depth of content, especially around STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) technologies means there is plenty of inspiration for visitors of any age.

“Tamariki and rangatahi tell us that climate change is the number one issue they are concerned about,” said MOTAT’s Museum Experience General Manager, Sally Manuireva.

“As a science and technology museum, it’s important we respond to that need and what better way to do this than by surrounding ourselves with brilliant people who are out there leading the way with viable, sustainable solutions.

We’ve worked closely with 15 of New Zealand’s brightest sustainable thinkers and some phenomenal community leaders to help make Switch Up happen. This exhibition will really stimulate conversations and get ideas flowing amongst our visitors. Switch Up will encourage them to participate and to challenge their own sustainability decisions at every turn.”

Switch Up: Sustainable Solutions opens in time for the school holidays at 10am, Saturday 1 October at MOTAT’s Great North Road site. Entry to the exhibition is included in general admission ticketing.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: Switch Up: Sustainable Solutions includes…

The Marketplace space showcases 15 NZ business initiatives that are leading the way on reducing waste, avoiding landfill, or working with sustainable material tech (e.g. plastic replacements).

Running through the centre of the exhibition, the Taiao tell the story of Waitītiko Meola Creek. Documentary interviews introduce the Community groups, kura, and others who are actively restoring and caring for the awa.

Floor projections on the walls and floor show the positive outcomes of the restoration or ‘tohu pai’ (good signs) of the awa.

As the final stop on this NFC-led Switch Up Challenge, The Hub turns the spotlight on the visitor and on MOTAT. This is a space to start reflecting on what sustainable actions we are doing as individuals and how we can ‘switch things up’ in the future.


1. Trow https://trowgroup.co.nz/Trow is an innovative Pacific business with a community-centred approach. CEO Saia Latu and co-founder Joe Vagana started the company in 2016. Saia wanted to address the problem of construction waste in New Zealand and to provide valuable building resources to his homeland of Tonga.

2. Mint https://www.mint.bio/Founded by Dr Will Barker in 2016, Mint is the world’s leading technology partner for sustainable metal recovery and was acknowledged as 1 of the 100 most promising Technology Pioneers in 2022 by the World Economic Forum.

Unlike traditional e-waste extraction plants that rely on high temperature/ air polluting smelting, Mint usesnaturally occurring microbes to extract metals (gold, palladium, copper etc) in a patented biological process. Their development lab is based in Auckland and they have just opened their first full scale commercial processing site in Sydney.

3. Shear Edge https://www.shear-edge.com/Removing the need for plastics in the manufacturing process using strong wool-based composite material. Co-founder Logan Williams initially tested the idea using wool clippings and a sandwich press, then went on to develop Keravos pellets using locally sourced strong wool. Using Keravos pellets removes plastics from the manufacturing process and makes use of a natural resource previously considered almost worthless. Shear-edge products can be made using existing plastic-moulding equipment and perform like plastic but are 100% recyclable.

On display: Shear-edge catamaran (MOTAT Collection Object)

4. WoolAid https://www.woolaid.com/

Entrepreneur Lucas Smith has taken a local and readily available wool source and found inventive ways to push the limits of this material. With its natural insulating antibacterial and water-resistant qualities wool was the ideal material to create WoolAid, a sustainable hyperfine wool alternative to single-use plastic plasters, and the world’s first biodegradable wool bandage.

5. Little Yellow Bird https://littleyellowbird.com/Little Yellow Bird has made every step of their clothing line’s production transparent. Sourcing sustainably grown cotton, ensuring ethical conditions for workers and using non-polluting dyes for fabrics. But their accountability does not end when they sell a garment – Little Yellow Bird applies full circularity to their business with a ‘take back bag’ scheme to keep garments and textiles out of landfill.

6. RUBY and Liam https://shop.rubynz.com/estore/category/brand/liam%20patterns.aspx

RUBY and Liam, led by designer Emily Miller-Sharma, are actively combatting textile waste throughout their design and production cycle. With the release of the Liam pattern range, NZ Fashion label Ruby is encouraging customers to get hands-on with the craft of sewing, learn new skills, and celebrate a slower, less wasteful, ‘quality-over-quantity’ approach to fashion.

NB. Even the paper used in their Liam patterns is recycled, thanks to a partnership with media company NZME.

7. Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae


Māra kai (community gardens) based on parakore (waste free) principles. Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae was established in 1984 and is an active site for learning and supporting the community in South Auckland, particularly rangatahi. Through the large-scale community maara, the marae champions hua parakore practices, an organic food framework based within te ao Māori

8. Kai ika Project https://kaiika.co.nz/

Collecting and redistributing fish heads and frames within the community. Kai Ika was set up to address the waste left after filleting, with nutritious fish heads and frames gathered and distributed throughout the local community. Kai Ika is a collaboration between the Outdoor Boating Club of Auckland, fishing advocacy group LegaSea and Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae in Māngere.

9. Paku https://www.paku.nz/Tools for tamariki based on mātauranga Māori. The Timo and Toki tools are inspired by the early agricultural tech and mātauranga of Aotearoa. Māori design expert Dr Johnson Witehira and Product Designer James Prier collaborated to create and launched Paku in 2021.

10. Zealafoam http://www.biopolymernetwork.com/content/Zealafoam/90.aspxPlant-based fish boxes and eco-beans designed to replace polystyrene. Made from corn-starch and an innovative new ‘carbon dioxide foaming’ method Zealafoam fish boxes and ecobeans are designed for long-term use and can be industrially composted. CEO of the Biopolymer Network, Sarah Heine is inspired by the potential of Zealafoam to replace polystyrene waste.

11. Earthpac https://earthpac.co.nz/Engineer Richard Williams developed a system for reducing two waste streams in one go. This compostable alternative to plastic packaging is made from the starchy water run-off from potato chip factories. By heating and pressing this dried potato starch powder Earthpac can make sustainable alternatives for many single-use plastic food packaging, such as hospital meal trays and fast-food packaging.

12. Citizen https://citizen.co.nz/Citizen is a collective of like-minded food and beverage makers that have decided to focus their energy on solving food-waste issues. Co-founders Donald Shepherd, Mike Sutherland and Ben Bayly are working with supermarkets and other food retailers to upcycle unsold surplus produce into food and drink. Waste bread becomes craft beer, rescued fruit becomes refreshing soda, cider or sauces… waste mash product from Beer making becomes artisan Bread…

13. Foodprint https://foodprint.app/The Foodprint app diverts food from landfill by helping cafés and eateries pass on their leftover food items to local people at a discount. This helps the hospitality sector recoup some of their costs while ensuring good food does not go to waste. The Foodprint App is now available in towns and cities across Aotearoa

14. Critical. http://www.criticaldesign.nz/Critical is an Auckland start-up that aims to end plastic pollution by addressing the huge volume of plastic waste that cannot currently be recycled. They have developed an innovative process for recycling a wide range of plastics into interior panels (Cleanstone Panels). The process is non-toxic, environmentally sound and 100% recyclable.

Public interested in being part of this sustainable local business enterprise can get involved with Critical’s current crowd equity campaign. Visit https://linktr.ee/Critical.Things for more info on this opportunity.

NB. Visitors will note that Critical’s Cleanstone Panels have been incorporated into built elements throughout the Switch Up exhibition and within the Taiao space. Once the Switch Up exhibition closes these panels will be returned to Critical’s Mt Roskill workshop where they will be fully recycled and reformed into new products.

15. Future Post https://www.futurepost.co.nz/When Future Post founder and farmer Jerome Wenzlick continually found plastics in the ground while installing fence posts, he thought, why not make posts from the plastic. Future Post developed a custom-built New Zealand made manufacturing plant to create high-quality fence posts from plastic waste, including bread bags and packaging.