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Published: 2001-05-11 00:00:00

Well-known Waikato environmentalists will go head to head against a national team later this month to debate whether our environment is a trash can or a treasure.

The debate is one of six around the country to focus attention on how we treat our environment, as part of the Rio+10 community programme to prepare for next year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. The summit is 10 years after the first “Earth Summit” held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Hamilton debate is on May 30, 7pm at the Performing Arts Academy and the MC will be the “bugman” from Maggie’s Garden Show, Rudd Kleinpaste. Judges will include Environment Waikato Environment Committee chairperson Jenni Vernon and a student. The subject is “Our environment … trash can or treasure?”, with the local team arguing that locals treasure the environment and the national team saying many use the local environment as a dump for waste and emissions.

Hamilton debate participants include former mayor Margaret Evans, former leader of the McGillicuddy Serious Party Graeme Cairns and Farm Environment Award Trust chairman Bill Garland.

Before the debate business representatives will gather for a Business Views Forum with guest speaker, Ministry for the Environment chief executive Denise Church. Anyone can register for the events by calling Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.

Public response to the Rio+10 programme will be incorporated into the environmental chapters of an international report New Zealand is preparing for the summit.

Waikato organiser, Environment Waikato Environmental Education programme manager Judy van Rossem said if people wanted to have their say about New Zealand’s environmental issues, they can get a starter pack from Environment Waikato which contains a “basket of knowledge” about the state of the country’s environment and a response card that can be filled out and sent back to the Ministry for the Environment.

The folder of information contains fact sheets on issues such as waste, fresh water, energy, climate change and biodiversity as well as things people can do to help the environment. Kits are being sent to teachers and other environmental interest groups to promote community involvement and interest in the issues.