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!

Gill Stewart, Facilitator, Wairarapa, Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui and Facilitator Support, National 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.











Banner image: Gill helps celebrate an on-going commitment to the Enviroschools kaupapa.


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 eel. This was first time Matilda (centre of image with surprised expression) had seen a tuna in the drain by her school. It led to ongoing observation and interest.

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!

Complete this sentence… 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.