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Schools and kindergartens all over Northland are working in innovative ways to build more sustainable schools and communities. Check out a few of the actions happening!

Bush tea, mangals, shore surveys, plants for bees and pests

WaiRestoration workshop a great success.....

The coastal environment was the focus for this year’s annual WaiRestoration professional development day, recently enjoyed by keen teachers and school community members at Aroha Island near Kerikeri.

Studying mangals (mangrove forests), learning how to survey the local seashore, making native bush tea from leaves and flowers, finding out about bee plants and beekeeping, and tracking and trapping pests were among the day’s learning opportunities.

Enviroschools Regional Coordinator Susan Karels says participants could choose to attend four out of five practical workshops designed to stimulate, enthuse and provide a kickstart for school-based WaiRestoration projects next year.

“We wanted the schools to be inspired about how they can incorporate WaiRestoration into their teaching,” she said. “All awa (rivers) lead into the moana (sea), so the coastal riparian environment is both important and relevant to their environmental studies.”

“It was a fantastic day that ended with everyone making a commitment to continue the work they have started,” Ms Karels said. “They wrote out a self-addressed envelope and put their WaiRestoration pledges inside. We’ll send these to them to help get the ball rolling when school starts next year.” 

Bobby Leef demonstrates the workings of a beehive at the annual WaiRestoration professional development day.


Enviroschools expo in Kaipara

The Northland wide Enviroschools Expo came to Kaipara for the first time recently and attracted some 40 local school students, 10 adults as well as Northland Regional Council staff and Kaipara-based councillor Penny Smart.

“Expos have been held yearly for about a decade and always provide exciting, hands-on learning experiences for participants,” said Penny.

This year’s theme centred on using the environment for economic gain in a sustainable manner. “This showcased potential job opportunities for the students and provided an exciting platform for participating Enviroschools schools, as they plan for the coming year...due to its success here in Kaipara, it will be on the agenda for next year,” said Penny.

Starting at the Matakohe War Memorial Hall, the year 5-10 students from Ruawai College, Ruawai Primary, Tinopai school, Maungaturoto primary and Dargaville Intermediate, visited four local employers who fitted the theme. They were Chapel Olive Oil, Organic Dairy Hub, Zephyr Oysters and free range chicken farmers Te Rata Family Farm.

“It was a really great day, the students were really engaged. They got some real hands on experience such as planting an olive tree, collecting eggs, feeding calves with flax and packaging oysters.

They also got some very sound business advice and asked well thought-out questions. The business owners were very generous and gave us all a take home sample of what they produced.”

Article sourced from Kaipara Lifestyler, November 2017

Asking for help attracts opportunity

Enviroschools attract free resources and supplies

When we think of Enviroschools, we often think of the work happening within the school gates – but the profile of Enviroschools and the networking skills of our facilitators – is attracting lots of opportunities from outside the school system. Some recent examples from Jacque Knight, Secondary Enviroschools facilitator include:

  • While chatting to Jon Hampson, Regional Co-ordinator for the NZ Landcare Trust, about riparian planting at a recent event, Jacquie thought she would be a bit cheeky and ask if the Trust could assist those Enviroschools that don’t have their own nurseries. The result - 6,850 riparian plants free of charge for 17 Enviroschools to plant out this winter as part of schools’ WaiPlanting work – a stream of the WaiRestoration project. The news is generating much excitement, with schools having three months to prepare the sites for planting during June/July.


 Jacquie Knight riparian planting (March 2017)

  • Another opportunity, offered to Jacque by the Tree Crops Association, is to provide free advice and assistance to Enviroschools wanting to set up orchards and gardens. This includes planning for orchard and garden layout, as well as advice and help with pruning, grafting, and help planting various fruit trees and putting permaculture methods into practice.
  • Jacquie is also involved with the Bream Head Conservation Trust, assisting with their efforts to develop resources on conservation theory and practice, which will provide students with conservation unit and achievement standards. The studies are currently being trialled at Whangarei Girls' and Whangarei Boys High Schools'.

It’s great to see how the work and reputation of Enviroschools is becoming such a force for schools and students right across Northland, and gaining even more benefits for the environment.

Jacquie demonstrates seed saving from native trees (March 2017)


Enterprising Students Supply Seedlings for Riparian Planting

 Te Aii students at the Bay of Islands International Academy have been busy gathering and germinating seeds from their own school grounds and potting up thousands of seedlings for riparian planting. Students have been liaising with the farmers who want to plant in gullies and along waterways, sourcing the materials they need, budgeting, marketing the project and doing all the work from seed raising to potting on, and looking after the young plants until they are ready to sell.

These super busy students don't stop there though. With the help of teacher Jenna Grant, the school’s enviro-team - senior students Weston Harper, Billie Wynrard, Thomasina Kelly and Jordan O’Leary - have been behind projects such as a worm farm, plant nursery, vegetable gardens, planting native and fruit trees, establishing beehives and a pollination garden.  

At the academy’s Bronze Enviroschools ceremony Joce Yeoman congratulated all the students for the huge amount of work they had done, “I know the whole school has been involved in some way, and this is just a beginning. You have many more interesting projects to come". 

Read the full story here!


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.


Onerahi School becomes Green-Gold

Councillor Paul Dimery takes a closer look at Onerahi School’s raised vegetable gardens, just one of the many sustainability initiatives that have just seen it earn a coveted Enviroschools Green-Gold status.  With him are pupils, Kayden Fowler, left, Ashley Stowe and Liam Townsend. 
Onerahi School has become just the fifth school in Northland to achieve Green-Gold status. The last time a Northland school achieved the coveted Green-Gold status was in 2013, when both Bream Bay’s Ruakaka School and Kaitaia’s Oturu School received theirs.
Northland Regional Council Chairman Bill Shepherd and fellow councillor Paul Dimery officially presented the Green-Gold during a ceremony at the 550-pupil school in Whangarei.
Chairman Shepherd says Green-Gold is a major achievement in Onerahi’s journey as an Enviroschool. “Onerahi School is one of our Northland pioneers in the programme and has been with us from the start”. Both councillors say it is a great honour to be able to publicly celebrate and acknowledge the school’s success.
Enviroschools Northland Regional Co-ordinator Susan Karels says among Onerahi School’s key strengths is its strong connection with its local community, including nearby Matakohe-Limestone Island.
“The school’s charter is developed around the environment and it has consistently looked for innovative and interesting ways to encourage environmental initiatives including beekeeping, developing an extensive native bush area and sound waste management”. Susan says while the new Green-Gold status belongs to the entire school community, principal Gerald Koberstein deserved special mention for the way he had consistently led the programme from the beginning.

WaiFencing workshops 2016

59 senior secondary students enjoyed Enviroschools WaiFencing courses at Trefoil Park this week (May 2016). Participants learnt the importance of fencing off waterways and how to tie fencing knots, build strainer assemblies, construct a fence line and run electric fencing. Kaikohe Christian School, Kaitaia College, Kamo High School, Northland College, Opononi Area School, Taipa Area School and Tauraroa Area School all took part in the NCEA focused training.

Hunter whacks in a post staple whilst Ezra supervises

Building strainer assemblies is fun

Team work

‘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 

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!