Education Challenge: Varanasi

Education Challenge: Varanasi This week’s education challenge will focus on topics in the city of Varanasi. Click here for a full PDF of all the challenges and stay tuned every Monday for each week’s education challenge! Subject: Access to clean water, cleansing the water, decomposition processes Challenge: What are the threats to the drinking water in Varansi? […]

Lisa’s year

As the year goes on you wonder where the time went and what did you do with it?

My last 2 years has gone like a flash.  The best way to recap is when I close my eyes and I take snapshots of different scenes which strike me and have significance.  My snap shot looks like this:

  • My Marriage
  • My brothers Marriage
  • An Aviation Business
  • An Indigenous Water Monitoring Programme
  • Domestic Travel…and Travel…..and Travel
  • International Travel
  • Working far too much
  • Making not enough money
  • Then making enough money
  • House Renovations
  • Family Gatherings
  • Motorbikes (MX and Trail Rides)
  • Not enough snowboarding
  • Way too much water skiing
  • Not being organised
  • Then being obsessive compulsive organised
  • Fit and Unfit, then Unfit and Fit
  • Good people, old friends and new friends


What a year! And I do believe the best is yet to come, especially with the expedition to the Ganges on the horizon.  A highlight which aligns with the Expedition has been the Indigenous Water Monitoring programme over the past 12 months.  Working with Ngāti Turumakina (Sub- Tribe based on the southern shores of Lake Taupō, New Zealand), restoring their involvement and management of their environment. Here is a link to some more information  Focus of the programme has been to manage freshwater issues from a recreational perspective, a human use perspective and reinvigorating indigenous management systems over the environment.

We have worked hard to make it fun, informative but also an opportunity to raise the capability of the home people to be confident in their own indigenous knowledge whilst looking after the environment.  We were fortunate to have attendance from early childhood through to grandparents attending the workshops and sharing knowledge with each other.  More importantly the workshops highlighted  the value of what each person offers as individuals to their community and it is not about being an academic or an expert but passion and knowledge of how to care for what you have.

Water research - New Zealand

Hone Warena checking out the minnow traps set to research fish abundance and health, with Department of Conservation worker Michael Hill.

In collaboration with the local Department of Conservation we were able to exhibit ‘Electric Fishing’  to the tribe and for the first time there was evidence of an indigenous fish species seen in the water system.   For the older generation it was a positive sign of the health of the streams but also instilled a sense of protection and excitement to get more involved their own environmental programme.

From my own perspective education on freshwater is not only about the resource itself, but those traditional connections that the community have with that resource.  The most important part of the work we do is for the home people to be confident in who they are, their knowledge, beliefs and language.  Coupled with this is the fact their history and the essence of who they are is reflected in the land and resources around them.  A resource like water is not just a commodity for human use, but for Māori culture in New Zealand it helps tell the story of who we are and sustains life.  This is beautifully articulated in a Māori proverb:

Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua

This proverb was spoken by Tinirau of Wanganui. It is a plead to hold fast to our culture, for without language, without mana (spirit), and without land, the essence of being a Maori would no longer exist, but be a skeleton which would not give justice to the full body of Maoritanga (maoridom).

To say the least I am proud to be who I am, amongst my people and humbled by their love for all around them.  It is a great connection with ‘Access Water -Your Expedition 2014’ and I am so excited to be bringing this element to the adventure ahead!!


Fiji in pristine water Mana Island.


Written by Lisa te Heuheu


Thor Heyerdahl – An Inspirator and Environmentalist

In 2014 is it 100 years since one of Ann and Liv´s great inspirators – Thor Heyerdahl was born. Heyerdahl is most know for his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947. For Ann and Liv is it his following expeditions Ra I, Ra II and Tigris that has inspired them to combine expeditions with education. With the Ra-expeditions Heyerdahl discovered that the oceans were polluted with clumps of oil and reported to UN that took action. Surrounded by military airplanes and warships he put his ship Tigris on fire as a protest against inhuman elements in the the World of 1978. The letter he wrote to UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim could be written today.

Thor Heyerdahl continued to speak up for our nature and on his expeditions Heyerdahl selected teams representing a great diversity in race, nationality, religion and political viewpoint in order to demonstrate that at least on their own little floating island, people could cooperate and live peacefully.

The Access Water Project is inspired by Thor Heyerdahl´s expeditions and his continously work for speak up for the oceans. He said that all kind of pollution will sooner or later end in the ocean.

Liv opened the Thor Heyerdahl Year with a lecture at The Caledonian University in Scotland.

“Boundaries? I have never seen one, but I hear they exist in the minds of most people.”

-Thor Heyerdahl

Further reading:


Ann & Liv meeting with Thor Heyerdahl before the 2000 crossing of Antarctica.

On meeting Nelson Mandela, by Kim Smith

I met Nelson Mandela in 2008. I was kim_mandela1awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship and part of the scholarship entailed meeting our patron. What an honour it was to meet this superhuman! It was one of my childhood dreams to meet Nelson Mandela and there I sat in the same room as him, waiting for my turn to have my moment with him. When I met this superhuman, he looked as human as any other human I’d seen before. The superhuman could joke with us. The superhuman told us stories: meaningless anecdotes, but also valuable, bite-size lessons in some of his experiences. He never had the opportunities to education as we do today he would say, and so he encouraged us to take all the opportunities at our disposal. And when I placed my hand into the superhuman’s, I could not think of anything to say…so I just thanked him for the opportunity to further my studies.

That moment passed so quickly and I often think about what I could have rather said in those few precious moments but what that moment meant to me has had a profound, long lasting impact on my life. How could it not? In applying for the scholarship, scholars pledge to aspire to be ethical servant leaders, to advance human rights and human dignity, to work hard, to use our education and skills to build our local and global communities and to practice the values enshrined by Tata Madiba.

kim_mandela2Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela also once said: “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair…” This is not something he said in a calculated instance of sophistry. This is something he truly lived and truly believed. What he said holds truth and this is what drives me.

The Access Water expedition encapsulates exactly this. The expedition harnesses the combining power of education and sport to drive change. I think of the expedition as my way of living up to the pledge I took almost six years ago. The scholarship equips young people with tools needed to address the challenges of the world, but also inspires us to go out and actually change the world. Having had the privilege to meet Tata Madiba, having had the privilege of being a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and having the privilege of being part of the expedition team, I have a profound appreciation for and sense of responsibility to effect change in my global environment.

Welcome to new team member Cindy

We want to formally welcome our newest team member who is stepping into Jing’s spot, Jiaojiao Hu.
Jiaojiao was born in a minority family in Yunnan province in Southwest of China. She studied German and French from 2011 to 2013, and achieved two master degrees in development economics in developing countries and emerging market and international project management. She then continued her studies at the China Universtiy of Goesciences in Beijing, China. She began to love outdoor sport at about 6 years ago and set up a mountaineering team at her university.

Welcome to our wonderful, dedicated team!  We all look forward to meeting as a complete team.

Warm regards,

Ann & Liv