Filling the basket of knowledge – ECE National team responses, 2023

| By Roimata Macfarlane, Enviroschools ECE Support

Whaiwhia te kete mātauranga
Fill the basket of knowledge

This whakataukī speaks to the importance of education and knowledge, and to encourage people to fill their baskets with knowledge.


Each year the Enviroschools National ECE team offer professional learning and development (PLD) to the ECE Enviroschools network. Much of this is offered online via Zoom and some hui-ā-tinana facilitated kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face).

A national ECE inspirational zoom event drew in large numbers.

Zoom continues to provide an excellent platform to bring ECE Enviroschools kaiako and facilitators together, particularly for the sessions offered to the whole national network. The ability to record many of our PLD offerings and have them available on the Enviroschools website team area has been an effective way to support the network breadth, as the majority of our ECE facilitators and lead teachers are full-time teachers. With this in mind it is important to us that we provide relevant and effective PLD that enables them to continue to delve deeper and grow within our kaupapa with ease.

Over 2023 there were many zooms. Katie and Roimata facilitated bespoke online conversations for regions and also termly zooms focused on ECE Enviroschools Inspiration and Sharing and Preparing for Enviroschools Holistic Reflections.

Below are some highlights of the many workshops, hui-ā-tinana and zoom offerings that took place in 2023.  We mihi to all of the people involved, especially the kaiako and facilitators who co-facilitated alongside us, sharing their wisdoms and experiences with the ECE Enviroschools network.

National ECE Enviroschools Inspiration and Sharing Zooms (T2, T3, T4)

Three zooms were held over 2023 attended by 195 people, and recordings of the zooms were watched by many more.

Tamariki enjoy the space beneath the plum trees for nature play at Springlands Kindergarten.

Some of the topics covered included ECE Enviroschools sharing their mahi on:

  • Building a stronger community around Sustainability Education and working towards a more sustainable future with tamariki and their whānau
  • Celebrating the Enviroschools Guiding Principle of Respect for Diversity
  • Holistic Reflection – Continuing the Green-Gold journey
  • Weaving and linking tamariki learning through Nature Play
  • Introducing Bush Kindy within their network of Kindergartens
  • Community Garden mahi

These zoom sessions have continued to create a wonderful opportunity to connect and hear about Enviroschools in the ECE setting and are so well received.  ECE Enviroschools are always wanting to hear from those currently doing the mahi and doing it well, as it helps gain insight and ideas. We hope that by offering these opportunities to hear about who, what, when where and how by others within the Enviroschools network inspires, affirms and possibly ignites others own Enviroschools haerenga (journey).

ECE Holistic Reflection Preparation Zooms (T2, T3, T4)

Starting in Term 2, Katie and Roimata offered this zoom to help ease the workload for ECE Enviroschools Facilitators, who as mentioned previously, are mostly full-time teachers. These sessions were designed for those ECE Enviroschools intending on reflecting on their Enviroschools haerenga. The focus was on connecting with Enviroschools Holistic Reflection in ECE, understanding the process around preparing for an Enviroschools Holistic Reflection, sharing some changes/tweaks that have made to the Enviroschools Holistic reflection process and answering any specific questions. These zooms were attended by 104 people.

Tiaki te taiao | Climate Change Action in ECE

At the end of 2022 Enviroschools National team members Roimata, Katie and Esther had the opportunity to contribute to a specific piece of mahi for the Ministry of Education.  An online suite of resources is now available to support effective integration of environmental education across the curriculum in the Early Childhood sector.

In 2023 we were able to share this with our Enviroschools network.  In this zoom event we shared and explored the range of resources new to the Ministry of Education TKI site that had been contributed to by Toimata Foundation Enviroschools national team. The resource provides strategies, activities, curriculum links and stories of practice to inspire learning journeys towards Climate Change Action as well as links to reference resources and organisations.

Regional workshops

There were 5 regional workshops for total of 76 people in 2023, facilitated either via zoom or kanohi ki te kanohi. All of these regional workshops were delivered in response to specific requests for support. Regions supported were Auckland, Canterbury, Gisborne and Bay of Plenty. The following are summaries from a selection of them.

Cultivating Cultural Practices – Exploring the Guiding Principle of Māori Perspectives / Te Ao Māori

This online workshop was provided for South Canterbury who requested some PLD on exploring the Enviroschools Guiding Principle of Māori Perspectives in more depth. In this zoom Roimata covered tools to help with engaging with whānau and tangata whenua and then unpacked this Guiding Principle through the Whole Centre Approach utilising the Four Key Areas: (Place (Wāhi) Practices (Tikanga) People & Participation (Tangata) Programmes (Kaupapa Ako). Within the Four Key Areas there is an authentic thread to this Guiding Principle that can naturally be woven through their Enviroschools mahi.  This was shown by sharing examples of ECE Centre’s making these connections.

Sharing perspectives

Inspired Kindergartens hui – Hauora | Enviroschools | Climate Change Action

The challenge of honouring both Māori and the Pākehā wisdoms, with so much in common and yet also much that is different, is not a task unique to Enviroschools, but one shared by our nation.  One of the aspects of our Enviroschools National team mahi is to support regions through empowering their tāngata. Katie and Roimata spent time with Inspired Kindergartens (IK) ECE teachers and facilitators in Bay of Plenty, engaging with the Enviroschools kaupapa through the lens of ‘Aroha atu, aroha mai – love flowing outwards from us, love flowing towards us’. If we put energy into aroha, tiaki and manaaki te taiao, there is going to be a flow on effect to us as tāngata engaging with te taiao working together creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together.

Exploring the ECE Enviroschools process – Environment Canterbury Enviroschools facilitators

In October, Katie spent time in Ōtautahi with 7 of the ECan team exploring the Enviroschools process in an ECE context. This included looking at the specific resources available to support each part of the process and unpacking the ECE handbook.

Other Zoom offerings for the network:

Exploring the links between Te Whāriki and the Enviroschools Kaupapa

This was initially planned for Auckland Kindergarten Association to explore the links between Te Whāriki and the Enviroschools Kaupapa. We then offered this same framework to those in our Enviroschools Facilitators network working in both primary schools and ECE centres. We particularly encouraged those new to facilitating within the ECE network. After 2nd successful online offering, we decided to open it to whole national network. In total 99 people attended 3 separate zui.

Exploring ways of knowing, being & doing

Always exploring at aligning the Enviroschools kaupapa with relevant focuses within the ECE sector, Roimata and Katie designed a zoom exploring the three concepts of ways of knowing, being and doing.  Within ECE teaching practices teachers are often referring to these three concepts with their ākonga which are interconnected, as ways of knowing shape ways of being and ways of doing. This zoom focussed on how the five Guiding Principles of Enviroschools promote ways of knowing, being and doing by empowering ākonga to become environmentally literate, responsible citizens who are actively engaged in creating a healthy, peaceful and more sustainable future. 55 kaiako and facilitators attended this zui.


Kaupapa ECE Enviroschools Facilitator training – Introduction to the Kaupapa

This hui is specifically for ECE Facilitators new to the role, this year we had 7 people attend.  The day included unpacking the key Enviroschools resources, the kaupapa and the role of the Enviroschools facilitator in the ECE context. Roimata and Katie also created opportunities to connect in with some of the activities in the resources as well as for the facilitators to create their own resources to utilise back in their regions.

National Enviroschools ECE Facilitator Hui x2

Katie engages the group.

This year we were able to deliver this mahi kanohi ki te kanohi in both Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island) and Te Waipounamu (South Island).  We had a total of 47 facilitators attend the two hui where we enjoyed sharing mauri, wholesome kōrero, good kai and lots of laughs.

Each year we offer space to hui-ā-tinana and address kaupapa requested by the Enviroschools facilitator network for us to unpack further. This year’s hui was focused on three main kaupapa;

  • Exploring Education for a Climate Changing Future and the relationship to the Enviroschools kaupapa, and our roles within it
  • Weaving Te Ao Māori through our facilitation mahi
  • Facilitation techniques