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Graeme Rabbits Sustainability Award 2020 winner

Written by Christine McCurdy
on July 08, 2021

Wendy Tran, Interior Team Leader for the Design team, is the winner of the Graeme Rabbits Sustainability Award for 2020.

This award, which in 2020 was delayed due to COVID-19, is named in honour of Graeme Rabbits, a Ryman contractor who died in January 2018. Graeme's friends and family helped establish the award to continue his passion for helping people live in a more sustainable and environmentally conscious way.

Wendy’s winning idea is to minimise contaminants reaching our waterways by creating functional and beautiful rain gardens to filter stormwater around suitable Ryman villages.

Stormwater is the runoff from rainwater and melted snow from urban surfaces, which may be contaminated with pollutants such as metals, sediment, nutrients, oil products and chemicals. These contaminants enter waterways where they may threaten water quality, fish, birdlife, and the aquatic ecosystem.

It is a major concern for New Zealand and Australia because of its potential negative effects on the ecological health of our urban and coastal waterways.

To address this issue, rain gardens around Ryman villages will help to attenuate and filter stormwater runoff from the villages, reducing flooding or erosion downstream, and removing pollutants before they reach waterways.

The idea entails the stormwater passing through plants with a specific ‘rain garden soil mix’, a sand layer and an underdrainage system which ultimately takes the stormwater away from the site and improves the water quality before it flows to the drainage system and watercourse.

“It was a good opportunity to create a better environmental outcome for Ryman sites by using a natural system to treat runoff before it gets discharged, creating benefits not only for the Ryman villages but also the wider environment,” says Wendy.

Native plants suitable for the surrounding environment of the village will be planted in the rain gardens, to assist in attracting native birds and other species into the area. Careful selection of plants will also minimise the overall watering required.

Wendy envisages that the rain gardens will also function as peaceful green spaces for residents to enjoy.

“I wanted the design to have a positive effect on the residents’ wellbeing, by creating a thoughtful and attractive landscape where residents can gather with friends and family and be able to connect with nature.”

The Graeme Rabbits Sustainability Award comes with a $5,000 cash prize for the person who comes up with the best idea for how we can be kinder to our environment, and Wendy already has a fitting idea of how she may spend this.

“I’m thinking about putting it towards an electric or hybrid car,” she says.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

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