Empowered Tangata – Celebrating our Facilitators

| By National Team

Our greatest resource are our people who continue to learn and share alongside each other and build the puna mātauranga of Enviroschools, honour the kaupapa and evolve the practice.

We have invited facilitators to supply us with a few photos of themselves at work or in your favourite place and to spend a few minutes answering the following questions:

  1. Name
  2. Region
  3. Role/s
  4. Length of time in Kaupapa
  5. your passion
  6. favourite facilitation moment
  7. funniest or most challenging facilitation moment
  8. complete this sentence… Enviroschools is…

Let’s see what they say!

Kauri Forno – Enviroschools Facilitator Te Tairāwhiti

Kauri gets into full facilitator fairy frolic in the beautiful Gray’s Bush, Te Tairāwhiti.

Ko Ruahine pae maunga

Ko Manawatu toku awa

No Papaioea ahau

Kei Turanganui a Kiwa ahau e noho ana

Ko Kauri Forno toku ingoa.

I am an Enviroschools facilitator in Te Tairawhiti Region and have held this position for 12 years so far.

My passion has always been an absolute love for nature. It’s where l feel most comfortable and happy. I have always been strongly motivated to learn more about te taiao and of course, the more you learn, the more you want to look after it.

Initially l was (and still am) fascinated by whales and dolphins, then it became all animals and then that morphed into loving native trees. I am always discovering new aspects of te taiao that l love sharing with the community.

Kauri alongside fellow Enviroschools facilitator, Bridget Dick, and Pearl Beattie from Tairawhiti REAP, at the community native tree nursery she runs.

My favourite facilitation moment: Sometimes l literally stop and look around at all the goodness happening. I remember when l was quite new, planting native trees at a kura and the reggae music was pumping, and everyone was so happy.

The funniest or most challenging facilitation moment: I am still surprised that a Gladwrap lawyer contacted me directly for referring to it as bad wrap or sad wrap.  It must be called plastic food wrap!

Complete this sentence: Enviroschools is…about everything being connected.  We’re all in this web of life and we need to learn about, value and protect every single living thing.





Anna Cunningham – Environmental Education Facilitator, Waikato

Anna in her element, working with young people in, about and for the environment.

I’m Anna Cunningham from Enviroschools  Waikato. My role is Environmental Education Facilitator.

Anna leads a group along the Mangakara Nature Walk, Pirongia.

Length of time in Kaupapa – I started in September 2019, so almost 4 years! A big chunk of that was through COVID though, so I still feel like I’m near the start of my Enviroschools journey.

My passion is supporting people of all ages to remember that they are part of the natural world, not separate from it, and what’s best for Papatūānuku is often best for humans too.

My favourite facilitation moments have been with Secondary aged students. Teenagers who care, REALLY care! This gives me hope for the future… there are some amazing young leaders here in the Waikato. We’ve run overnight Climate Action Camps for this age group over the past couple of years, which has been lots of fun and a great opportunity to offer something special for our secondary enviro-leaders. (See banner image). As a follow-on from these camps, we invited all attendees to a Leadership Skills Day, which we ran in collaboration with Waikato Regional Council’s Learning & Development team. We spent the day exploring the idea that leadership is what creates change, and that we can all be leaders using our unique skills and passions. We looked at personality profiles, communication strategies, and how to navigate difficult situations.  The day was really fun and also super useful for all attendees. It was great to be able to bring these useful insights and life-skills to young people – I wish I’d learnt these things in school!

Anna demonstrates her drawing skills at a Youth Leadership Day.

Waste audits can create ah ha moments for young people and lead to action.











The funniest or most challenging facilitation moment was when I was asked to speak at the senior assembly of one of my Secondary Schools during their Enviro Week. I was given 5 mins to talk on ‘why we should protect the environment’ – not a small topic eh?! It was a large school, so I had 1,000 pairs of teenage eyes watching me, which was fairly daunting! I started my presentation by asking them to imagine that they were in a place in nature that they cared about, and then consider how important it was to them that that place was looked after. Ripples of chatter started around the room, and I was worried that I might lose the crowd. At that point, the DP came to stand next to me. She didn’t say a word, but I could feel her power and the respect the students had for her. The chatting stopped straight away!!

Enviroschools is… the most fun job I’ve ever had!



Gill Stewart – Facilitator, Wairarapa, Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui and Facilitator Support, National Enviroschools team

Ko Takitimu te maunga

Ko Te Ara-a-Kiwa te moana

Ko Uruao me Takitimu te waka

Ko Ngāi Tahu te iwi,

No Murihiku ahau.

Ko Wairarapa tōku kainga

Kei Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui ki Wairarapa e mahi ana

Ko Gill Stewart tōku ingoa.

Inspiring sharing by young people at our Tuning into Natural Cycles Event for schools.

Our first Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui Enviroschools team.







Ngā mihi nui ki a whānau o Enviroschools.

Although my heart is in Te Wai Pounamu even after 22 years away, I am very much in love with the Wairarapa. My oldest daughter is an Enviroschools pepi. She came to the training with me in Whaingaroa, still in my belly, to my first meeting, which was with a principal, and was rocked by many a teacher as I led staff meetings. Anika is now 18 years old.

Gill in her element!

As a teacher I advocated for Enviroschools to be funded in the Wairarapa and then with encouragement from our RC and well-loved mother of all, Jan Cox, I ended up being the first facilitator in the Masterton district. It started as a 10 hour a week role, which was good for a brand-new mum. Now my role covers all of the Wairarapa with twice as many hours.

I kept the Regional Coordinator seat warm in Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui (Wellington region) for a short time. However, tamariki and kaiako and being out in the taiao are more my thing rather than councils, budgets, and team management.


Imagining our history from the perspective of the huia at a Tracking and Trapping workshop for ākonga.

My passion is community and fostering learning. Connecting people with people and people with our beautiful taiao brings me great joy. My mantra is if you do nothing else foster awe and wonder and if everyone understood that everything is connected, our job would be done.

My favourite facilitation times are when I bring people together in workshops, hubs and events with their peers and other environmental educators. I can sink into the background and watch the magic happen – the learning, the a-ha moments and the fun. However there always is an expectation that action will be taken once they return to their schools or centres.


Marama Tuuta, from the Masterton District Council, surrounded by the tamariki from Pohutukawa Early Learning Centre.

It was such a buzz to see Pohutukawa Early Learning Centre, our latest Silver Enviroschool, sharing their sustainability practices with kaiako from their two sister centres at our May ECE Sustainability Hub. After watching Pohutukawa for several years these centres are now ready to start their own sustainability journeys.

Also, earlier in the year Pohutukawa kaiako and tamariki totally won over our district councillor, who came to present them with their Enviroschools Holistic Reflection Silver certificate. She shared with the other councillors how this centre was taking action for the climate and influencing many along the way. These are the moments that make me proud of what I do.


My most challenging facilitation moment was that first meeting with our first school. I was breast feeding Anika while Jan (RC) ran the meeting with the principal. It was hot and I couldn’t understand why Anika was crying – she never cried. I took a moment outside and realised I was feeding her on the wrong side. Back we went in and now that school is about to go through their second Green-Gold review and will be our first school to trial our ngahere holistic reflection model.

Being part of the Enviroschools whānau has been a privilege. I love the beautiful, compassionate, creative, clever and courageous people I work with. I am constantly learning and being challenged. Now being a part of the Toimata team in the role of Facilitator Support I get to learn from you all as I pull together zoom hui to inspire and uncover the important mahi we, with our schools and centres, are doing around Aotearoa.

Enviroschools, for me, is a way of living. May the kaupapa be with you.

The National Facilitator Support Team, from left to right: Gill, Morag and Beccy.

Preparing for an event – Wetland Wonderings – with Sarah-Jane from Greater Wellington Regional Council and Violet Edwards from Kohunui Marae. Hanging out with awesome people in a stunning regenerating environment.












Matt Stanford – Enviroschools Community Facilitator, Waitaha – Canterbury

Matt, looking younger…

Ko Crooks Peak te maunga

Ko Yeo te awa

Ko Bristol Channel to moana

No Bristol, England ahau

Ko Ōtautahi tōku kainga

He kaimahi au Enviroschools Waitaha/ Canterbury

Ko Matt Stanford tōku ingoa

Length of time in kaupapa – This year, 2023, is my 10th year as an Enviroschools facilitator.

Passion – connecting young people to their local environment through the discovery of native plants and animals, some being taonga or mahinga kai species to foster love/ appreciation and therefore instinct to protect and nurture.

Favourite facilitation moment – Being greedy, I’m taking two.

1.This moment below: The point of initial discovery. For example, the first time Matilda ever saw a tuna/ long finned eel in a drain right by her school.  Then seeing how that spark ignites, in this case with Matilda visiting the awa every evening for weeks, building a database poster, then meeting with the council to construct an eel observation area to showcase these special creatures.

Matt holding up a fyke net with tuna/ eel. Check out the expression of the centre student’s face- that’s the ‘moment’!

2. Working with awesome teachers to push boundaries and support those truly special students that have a yearning to act for te taiao. For example, supporting Allana a teacher at Te Kura o Makonui/ Springston School as the students researched and prepared a restoration plan for a whole 50m stretch of waterway that informed a resource consent for a partnership project with DOC/ Fonterra and the district council.

Students sharing their scale restoration plan at the Environment Canterbury Water Zone Committee meeting.

Toby receives the NZPCN award from Rewi Elliot.









Six months later whilst laying out plants at a separate community planting event, Toby the original planting plan team leader demonstrated his knowledge of the plants, their ecosystem services and values. Wow, embedded and applied knowledge which was recognised when he won the New Zealand Young Plant Conservationist award. This learning and action about plant conservation and leadership is covered in more detail in Our Stories.

Enviroschools Canterbury facilitators on camp, after enjoying macaroni for breakfast.

Funniest or most challenging facilitation moment. Eating Macaroni and cheese for three days after Toni and I over catered at an Enviroleaders camp at Arthurs Pass. We even ate it for breakfast- I have never really liked it and certainly less so now!

Enviroschools is… a nurturing kaupapa for both people and te taiao, it’s BIG but we use the word holistic!






Looking at the richness with the resources. The Waitaha – Canterbury team run an Enviroschools hui for kaiako.