Walking the Talk

We genuinely believe in getting involved in our community.

This isn’t one of those corporate value statements that just looks good on paper. Contributing to the local economy and community is an important motivator for being in business – so we genuinely ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to community involvement. Sometimes that means rolling up our sleeves and donating our time, labour, and expertise for a good cause. And sometimes that means contributing some hard-earned cash. But whether it’s a micro-finance loan for a well in Malawi or donating rainwater tanks to a school in Marlborough, we genuinely believe in getting involved and making a difference.

As part of our ongoing commitment to our community, here are just some of the initiatives we’ve been involved in recently:

Water as Art! World Water Day 2016

In 2016 we were delighted to partner with Marlborough artist Gynelle Blake to produce a large mural on a water theme in a community space in central Blenheim. As Stephen Leitch (our MD) says “we see this as a chance to beautify our town’s environment as well as make people reflect on the importance of water to our community – which is a part of our broader community initiative. We work, live and play in Marlborough. We want to make it a better place for our staff, our clients and our future generations”.

We then collaborated with a local charity, “John’s Kitchen” to finalise the mural location on their wall (on Redwood Street, adjoining The Warehouse). We are so delighted with the incredible artwork that Gynelle created for us, and that we were together able to gift to the community.

SWE sponsors Kiwi Can programme in Marlborough

Graeme Dingle Foundation “Kiwi Can” programme

The Kiwi Can initiative is aimed specifically at building the self-confidence and life skills of primary-aged children and delivers this message through fun and interactive classes and through community projects. The programme also focus on values such as respect, integrity, excellence and sustainability – values which are close to our heart and philosophy.

A 2019 report showed that every $1 invested into the Kiwi Can programme resulted in a $7.80 social return on investment for New Zealand. In Marlborough they are currently working with 9 primary schools, and approximately 1,700 children (which amounts to around 40% of Marlborough children!) – and their families.

Back in 2015 SWE committed to sponsoring one child for every SWE employee. Our have visited Whitney Street School and Renwick School to see the programme in action, and true to our “getting involved” philosophy, there was no sitting on the sidelines!

Our Managing Director, Stephen, has taken part in the Foundation’s annual flagship fundraiser “Drop Your Boss” helping to raise even more money to support the Kiwi Can programme in Marlborough.

The SWE team are delighted to get behind Graeme Dingle Foundation and support their goal to ‘transform young lives forever’ – and each year we have increased our financial support, to the extent we are now recognised as a Platinum sponsor of the programme.

World Water Day 2015 – “The Great Drain Game”

In 2015 our World water Day project was to build a water education resource “The Great Drain Game” – focussed on stormwater, wastewater and water conservation education in primary schools in Marlborough. We provided the funds, materials and labour to get the project completed, and Marlborough District Council provide the freshwater educator, Anna Crowe, to deliver the programme in schools. It will also be used at community events such as ‘The Amazing Eco-Race’ and school galas.

See more about this on our News page.

World Water Day Project, The Great Drain Game
A Tractor for Gaua, Project Team

A Tractor for Gaua

For several years a team of men from the island of Gaua, in Northern Vanuatu, have been coming to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. These men work in the vineyards of Marlborough, saving hard to make a difference to the lives of their families and community at home. Back home, the island’s one means of transport (an old 4WD truck) was struggling to keep up with the heavy workload – so together with their local supporters, the men decided to save and fundraise to purchase a second-hand tractor for the island.

SWE was delighted to get involved with this project, and contributed towards shipping costs to get the tractor from New Zealand to the island of Gaua.

See more about this on our News page.

World Water Day at Springlands School (Blenheim)

We were delighted to work with the children of the school’s “GO MAD” environmental team to look at ways to capture and store rainwater. We donated the storage tanks and are working with the school on design for the future.

See more about this on our News page.

Some of the other ways we get involved in our local and global community:

  • Scouts and Cubs: Stephen Leitch (our Managing Director) is a scout leaders in Marlborough, and has been for many years. SWE actively supports many of the Scouts and Cubs’ fundraising efforts.
  • Graeme Dingle Foundation: a cause we actively get involved with and contribute to as Platinum Sponsor!
  • Department of Conservation: Stephen Leitch has been involved with Department of Conservation planting at Stephens Island (Marlborough Sounds), and trapping at Coal Island (Fiordland).
  • Te Hoiere Bat Recovery Project: Stephen and Mike Cooper (our General Manager) are actively involved with Te Hoiere Bat Recovery Project – a combined effort between Forest and Bird members from Nelson-Tasman and Marlborough and community volunteers. Volunteers like Stephen and Mike clock up around 80 hours a month checking 500 traps across 150 hectares – to decrease the populations of rats, stoats, possums and feral cats that threaten the livelihood of the local long-tailed bat population.
  • Sports: We sponsor local sports teams in Marlborough.
  • Riverlands Revitalisation Project: We have partnered with our wine industry clients and colleagues to help progress this visionary scheme to enhance the Riverlands industrial estate – with environmental, social and cultural knock-on effects. We brought in a landscape architect to help drive the project forwards, and have already donated time and will donate money and expertise to ensure the project is fulfilled.
  • In addition, while not strictly a ‘community’ measure, the SWE team are also proud of the environmental successes we have achieved, including –  recycling: We have offered recycling services for our clients since 2011. In 2011, we purchased the first dripline (plastic pipe for vineyard irrigation) recovery machine in New Zealand and developed a relationship with a plastic recycler. This allowed us to offer a dripline recovery service, rewinding dripline into tightly packaged coils for reprocessing. Vine covers and netting can also be collected for recycling. This has a major impact on the waste streams and environmental impact of the vineyard industry in Marlborough.
  • We frequently support community events, such as the local dog trials.
  • We make micro-finance loans via Kiva. Kiva enables us to make a loan to people in the developing world, and when they pay it back we can reloan the funds again and again. It’s a system that works to empower people to change their own lives for the better (and in ways that they have chosen for themselves – rather than what someone else thinks would be good for them). We currently have a number of loans to assist sustainable agriculture and potable water initiatives, among other things. We love this idea of giving a ‘hand-up’, not a hand-out.
  • And we offer pocket-money opportunities to youngsters (it’s fair to say we have plenty of neighbourhood kids vying to clean the vehicles, for example).

Our commitment to community involvement is sincere and integral to how we do business. We work, live and play in Marlborough. We want to make it a better place for our staff, our clients and our future generations.