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Havelock North Kindergarten outdoor environment transformation

...using the Enviroschools Action Learning Cycle and a Māori Perspectives lens

At Havelock North Central Kindergarten the Enviroschools kaupapa supported the direction we wanted to head in, for the upgrade of our outdoor environment.

We used the Enviroschools Action Learning Cycle and the Māori Perspectives Guiding Principle (as well as concepts from book ‘Natural Playscapes’ by Rusty Keeler). 

Our garden development was a very big part of the children's programme. We could all see and be part of the whole process from concept, design, set up ground preparation and then the building etc.

The journey used a holistic approach and ‘kaitiakitanga’ utilising values from the past and the future and incorporating values of sustainability and care for the environment.  We invited whānau and the extended community to contribute thoughts and ideas; from memories of their childhood and garden play, to resource ideas and what was seen as an important part of our community in and around Hawke’s Bay. We included significant features of our whenua such as native plants and terroir encouraging birds and wildlife; wine barrels and grapes; limestone etc. Children contributed to this through a variety of different avenues e.g. korero, hui, art, purakau, stories, planting seeds to grow into seedlings etc.

 We incorporated Māori Perspectives and the dispositions of atua into the plan. Tūmatuenga - strategy focus and determination. This was the planning, consultation, feedback, design etc. We planted grasses for Tāwhirimatea to play and dance through.  We had a formal garden area peaceful, quiet and mindful spaces.(Rongomatane) and let wild plants grow up (Haumietiketike) where they naturally wanted to grow. Tamariki even came up with how to incorporate Urutengangana, and we mosaicked coloured glass and pebbles as stars into concrete. 

Tangaroa and Hinemoana and their elements were incorporated into the sand area. Water is pulled from an old pump by tamariki and so it can then cascade over and around limestone rocks before creating valleys and rivers through shells, fossils and lots of sand. Tanemahuta and his plants are plotted in and around areas of play. Some to give shade from Te Ra, others for different scents and visual delight or seasonal change like his wives .Hineraumati and Hinetakarua. We planted willow to create little nooks to hide in. We harvest the new growth to create other things like fences and wreaths

It’s been a long process and our front garden is complete and working well, we have adapted spaces as children find what works for them.


before and after photos of the outdoor environment transformation




Waddle you do for Blue Penguins?

The West Coast Penguin Trust guided their third group of teachers through the Trust’s educational resource and some of the activities at Hokitika Primary School in September 2016. The resource is modelled on the Enviroschools Action Learning Cycle and supports schools to take action for blue penguins.

To break the ice, attendees had to draw a penguin with pencil and paper on their head!  Almost impossible to do and a great ice breaker - keep it up your sleeve!

The feedback from the workshop was very positive and included "This was all very relevant to our school. Thank you!" and "What a fantastic resource for use in our centres and schools".

Thank you to the participants who gave up time to come along and we look forward to hearing about the penguin and seabird activities you do with the children in your care. If you haven’t seen the resource yet and would like to use it with children you teach or lead, you can download it from the Trust’s website www.bluepenguin.org.nz/ , or email info@bluepenguin.org.nz to request a hard copy.

New Bike Track at Seymour Kindergarten

Lots of the tamariki at Seymour Kindergarten love to ride their bikes, but they didn’t have much of an area in their kindergarten to do this.  The teachers talked with the tamariki and whānau about the idea of creating a bike track and including native plantings as part of this.  The tamariki helped with the designs, and with some great community support, the bike track was officially opened after being well-tested by students first. 

Hurupaki School celebrate the opening of their new Butterfly Bee and Bug habitat

At the end of November 2016, Hurupaki School celebrated their new butterfly, bee and bug habitat with Councillor John Bain.

$1,400 funding from NRCs Environmental Leaders Fund helped complete the habitat, build a wetland bridge and assist with animal pest trapping equipment.

The habitat looks amazing, with weta hotels and signage, and a wetland open to the public.

For more pictures, check out Northland Regional Councils facebook post.


‘Art for Earth’s Sake’ - 2016 Enviroschools expo

In the first week of November in Kerikeri & Whangarei, more than 180 Enviroschools students, plus teachers and whanau, at Whangarei and Kerikeri to learn about making sustainable artworks from the environment at this year’s Enviroschools regional expos- ‘Art for Earth’s Sake’.

This year’s Far North Enviroschools Expos were held at Whangarei’s Quarry Arts Centre on Tuesday 01 November, with a second at Kerikeri’s Old Packhouse Market two days later– both perfect venues for art to meet science, technology and nature innovation.

Each expo featured a variety of different ‘art stations’ designed to showcase how natural materials and processes could be used to create various forms of art. Everyone was hands-on with cyanotype photography (a simple, low cost process that produces a cyan-blue print), raranga, wax carving and clay creations

The expos also called on the impressive skills of artists and experts who had enthusiastically passed on the knowledge they had accumulated – over a lifetime in some cases – across a wide range of fields.

As well as hands-on learning, the expos also enabled participants to make links between the arts, science and technology and encounter a platform for future learning.

 “It was great being able to see the students’ responses to the range and quality of art they were able to make, particularly in areas like the cyanotype photography where simple pieces of plant or shells were used to create photos I’d happily hang on my walls.”

Looks like it was a great day with lots of beautiful creations, learning and sharing!

To see more pictures from the day, visit the Northland Regional Council facebook page 

Bringing back the birds to the Hauraki Plains


Students at Netherton Primary have initiated a vision to ‘bring back the birds’ to the Hauraki Plains. A milestone was realized this year when children planted out the first of the native trees that they had grown themselves in kahikatea remnant on a local farm.

Over five years ago, children were learning about ‘Te Ngahere’ and observed there were no native birds present at the school. They researched and invited a ranger from the Department of Conservation to give advice on how to bring back the birds. They discovered the kahikatea forest remnants on the Plains are the remains of a giant forest which once covered the entire area. They learnt that by securing these remnants through fencing and under-planting they would be able to provide habitat for birds which would also act as ‘bird islands’ for them to fly between.

They created an action plan to achieve this, learning that these stands were dying because of stock grazing under their canopy and there was no second generation forest to take their place. A meeting was held inviting local farmers to be part of the project. A partnership was also formed with Waikato Regional Council (WRC) who were happy to be part of providing some trees and to work with farmers to support them in fencing off existing stands of trees.

Last year WRC supplied around 700 trees and the children helped plant them. Meanwhile the school became part of the Trees for Survival Programme with funding from the Fonterra Grassroots Fund. This would allow them to grow their own native trees with a purpose built plant growing unit.

The Trees for Survival plant growing unit was set up in 2015 and the children had grown a mix of approx 500 manuka, harakeke, kahikatea, karamu and carex. This year the seedlings were ready to be planted out under a kahikatea remnant on Peter Corlett’s nearby farm, creating a precious understory of natives for the existing giants. Netherton Principal Tracey Adams sees it as “a great way to give back to the community” and intends for the ‘Kahikatea Project’ to be sustained long into the future. Mr Corlett said “It’s a great idea … it’s important what we do in our life… in years to come these kids will drive past this with their kids and know they have done something good”.

Netherton children hope by then, the birds will have made it back to their little school on the Hauraki Plains.

Article from Waikato Enviroschools blog, September 2016

Nawton School develops medicinal plant garden

 To celebrate Matariki, Hamilton primary School pupils have opened their own rongoa (medicinal) garden. The Nawton School children have spent the last term learning about the science behind rongoa plants. The kids have been on field trips, researched plants, applied for funding from Waikato Regional Council and designed, planted and cared for the garden - all in their own time.


LEFT:Members of the schools enviro group 'Pride Heroes', Penelope Te Pania, Phoenix Nicholls, Jason Cheng, Siakumi Fakauai, Sapphire Harris and Jazmyn Kati, celebrate the competition of their Rongoa gardens.

Nawton have successfully reflected at a Silver level during 2015, where they held a whole school powhiri -the Day was a real celebration of the school's journey. There is a strong demonstration of empowered students creating a sustainable school community. Evidence that projects are being kept up and growing and new ideas are being added to journey. They received funding from Enviroschools fund (about $3800) for constructing a Maori medicinal garden to benefit their student's whanau and wider community. They asked for support to take their students to the Maori Medicinal Garden exhibition at Mystery Creek and then for the construction of the gardens. 75% of their students are Maori and The PRIDE HERO's (environmental leaders in the school) were instrumental in planning, researching, construction and continued care and maintenance and as co-pilots in the education involving all 24 classes in the school.

 The aims of the project were to: Enable Nawton School students and community to learn from each other and to ensure ancestral practices are honoured and that the gardens are utilized to benefit not only the students but the wider community. To support the school to be more sustainable and develop their understanding of the importance of working together for the environment.


Enviroschools leader and Teacher Meika King said the long-term aim of the project is for the kids to be able to learn enough to use the plants, but this would involve getting in professional help from a rongoa practitioner. She said it is now the kids responsibility to water, weed and care for the garden. SChhol principal Rubina Wheeler said she looks forward to seeing how the garden grows, and how the plants will add to the richness of the school.

Portland Kindergarten Forest Regeneration takes root

Portland Kindergarten’s vision to restore and regenerate bordering native forest is taking root, thanks to the strong support of the local community. Individuals and organisations have donated their time, machinery, people-power and support to clear non-natives and get native forest regeneration on its way. Local nurseries have donated plants, and a next step is to organise a community planting day. To ensure the forest’s new seedlings survive, the kindergarten students have also been learning about trapping pests and the effect pests have on native life. 


Kaumātua Fred Tito leading Portland Kindergarten children through the whakawātea cleansing of the land – they plan to regenerate.

Story and picture taken from Enviroschools Northland newsletter, issue 20 Term 2 2015.

Raumati South School share the buzz of sustainable school gardening


A Kapiti Enviroschool inspired the nation and at the same time received the Yates People’s Choice Award when they were the first primary school to take a garden to the annual Ellerslie International Flower Show in Christchurch in March this year.  Click here to find out more about this exiting event.

Tairawhiti Enviroschools’ Fruit Tree Workshop

Gisborne region held a very successful fruit tree workshop in May 2014. The aim of the workshop was to learn how to grow the best tree possible, so it holds lots of delicious fruit.

Points covered during the workshop were:

  • 1.    Orchard site
  • 2.    Site preparation
  • 3.    Planting
  • 4.    Care and maintenance
  • 5.    Pests and diseases
  • 6.    Pruning

The day started with a powhiri, then the students from the host school presented their landscape design ideas, and then everyone took action to make the landscape design a reality. Trees planted in the orchard included feijoa, persimmon, mandarin, peach, grape and apple.


Garden Rescue at Martinborough School

Sm koru garden finished

Disaster to delight

Martinborough School students, staff and parents were very disappointed when the only place for the new classroom turned out to be the site of the school garden.  But they turned their plight into an opportunity by designing a new outdoor classroom. Click here to read more.

Hampden Street School

Soil and garden rejuvenation

Simon Ashby along with a team of students have been busy re-creating their school garden.  Watch their video here!

Eco Hut Challenge

Kapiti eco hut shell-small

Successes in the Region

Four schools from the Wellington Region participated in the the Eco Hut Challenge with some fabulous and interesting results.  >Click here to read more

Pirinoa School students help Little Blue Penguins


Little Blue Penguins received a helping hand from Pirinoa School students on World Migratory Bird Day 2013.

Students built and painted nesting boxes for the penguins, which were then set out using GPS co-ordinates along the coastline from Te Kopi to Lake Ferry, with the help of Clive Paton, chairman of Aorangi Trust, and Greater Wellington Regional Council. See here for the full story.

Twenty five attend School Environments workshops for caretakers and teachers

Participants from around Northland gathered at Hukerenui School recently came together for a special Enviroschools workshop for school caretakers and teachers.
The Northland Regional Council played a key role in bringing Enviroschools north in 2003 and there are now more than 70 Northland schools and several kindergartens in the programme, a school-wide approach to sustainability.
Enviroschools Regional Co-ordinator Susan Karels says this week’s free, day-long ‘School Environments’ workshop investigated ways caretakers and teachers could support their school’s Enviroschools’ journey.
It had been held at Hukerenui School, north of Whangarei, because it’s one of the programme’s ‘star performers’ for the way it uses its school environment sustainably for educational purposes.
“Twenty-five participants from as far afield as Kohukohu and Otamatea took part, exploring a range of sustainable practices, as well as sharing problems and solutions to school property management.”
Mrs Karels says beekeeping, waste management, animal pest control, lavender farming, native bush areas and keeping animals at school had all been traversed, as had ways caretakers could involve students in their work where appropriate.
The workshop is the fourth held by the regional council in recent years (the last was held two years ago in Dargaville) and is designed to recognise the value of caretakers and the role they and their work play in the wider school community.
“We also encourage caretakers and teachers to work together to incorporate students’ ideas to enhance their school environment.”
IMAGE: Kohukohu School teacher Kim Wilson, left, Hukurenui School student Kaia Stevens and Northland College caretaker Rob Paewhenua take a hands on approach to lavender farming at the recent School Environments Workshop at Hukerenui School.
Article released on Northern Regional Council website. See the Hukerenui School blog for more!