Queenstown Lakes Enviroschools develop projects and practices

| By Enviroschools Otago

Rongomātāne - Atua of garden crops, with qualities of peacefulness and order, provision and cultivation.

Enviroschools is a holistic approach to the development of sustainable communities. Enviroschools has a kaupapa of creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together.

Each Enviroschool completes an annual review of their sustainability highlights and achievements over the year, along with identifying challenges, plans and aspirations for the upcoming year. Below is a summary of the amazing mahi schools and Early Childhood Centres are doing in their schools and communities and the difference that Enviroschools is making.

Enviroschools has made a difference to Queenstown Lakes Schools and ECE through ways such as:

  • sustainability lenses being on all learning and part of the decision-making at every level,
  • sustainability being more integrated across the whole school,
  • more people becoming actively involved with Enviroschools,
  • groups of children of all ages working together and reaching out to take action in the community,
  • the orchard being planned, designed and planted,
  • each pod having a sustainability leader,
  • increasing (noticeably) engagement from parents on sustainability.

Queenstown Lakes schools and early childhood centres are making a difference in their schools/ centres and communities in many different ways

Queenstown Primary students hard at work releasing trees they planted last year at Moke Lake.

All Enviroschools and ECE took action on waste though actions and activities including: waste-free lunches, eating before going out to play, composting, worm farms, recycling, visiting Wastebusters, Envirogroup learning how to make beeswax wraps and will be teaching the rest of the school, zero waste influences all choices made by the school.

100% of Enviroschools took action to look after the whenua by being engaged in: food gardens (growing, cooking and sharing), planting native and fruit trees, planting bird and bee friendly gardens, wilding pine removal, growing beech seedling as gifts and to sell, involved in community planting projects, pest monitoring and trapping, and Grebe project, students redesigning an area of school grounds, creating environmental art, being involved in BioBlitz with WAI Wanaka and finding out what lives at school grounds.

60% of Enviroschools took a range of actions to look after water including: attending Enviroschools water hui, water tank installed for school garden, water testing and species identification, riparian planting, installing timers on school taps.

100% of Queenstown Lake District Enviroschools took action on energy and ecological building that covered aspects such as: energy inquiry (including personal energy) for the year, students identifying strategies to reduce cars travelling to school, walk and wheels and walking school bus travel to school, bike track design, bike rack construction by parents, washing hung outside, monitoring electricity use, designing dens and huts and looked at sustainable building practices.

Operation Kaitiakitanga at Arrowtown School.

Connecting with the Community

Students went out beyond the school gates to make a difference in Waitaki. They connected with Touchstone and WAI Wanaka to look at water quality; Te Kakano and the Reforestation Trust from planting projects; Wakatipu Wilding Pines for weeding work; Wanaka Wastebusters and Keep New Zealand Beautiful to discover there is no ‘away’ when it comes to waste; and Forest and Bird

Enviroschools facilitates connections with citizen science programmes and with community groups. Students learn a lot about their local environments through a range of projects including: Ecosystem restoration, Air Quality


Being sustainable isn’t always easy

Challenges teachers talked about included:

integrating Enviroschools across the whole school and whole school buy-in, lack of time and funding, rapidly growing schools and staff turn-over. And, of course, in 2020 COVID-19 hampered initiatives and/or opportunities for deepening learning.

Teachers said more staff professional development on sustainability and more time with facilitators would make a difference to the work they are doing. They would also like help with school-wide planning to integrate sustainability and with being the ‘voice’ for sustainability in their school.  More sharing between schools and greater engagement with experts and the community would facilitate sharing knowledge and help to keep teachers and students inspired and motivated.

Queenstown Lakes District Enviroschools overview

12 Queenstown Lakes District schools and three Early Childhood Centres are Enviroschools. As well as the facilitators supporting schools directly, in 2020 we ran a Primary School teacher hui, a Secondary School teacher hui, and a Primary student hui. Along with everyone else we started to utilise digital communication tools. We ran cluster meetings for teachers and developed a series of weekly challenges teachers in term 3.

Find out more about Enviroschools here and at the Otago Enviroschools facebook page

Get in touch with your Enviroschools facilitator for support with planning, projects, resources and connections to experts and community.

Tamariki taste peas in the Wanaka Pre-school garden.

Many volunteers make light work out of digging the new vegetable gardens at Queenstown Primary School.










Banner image: Students get in for a closer look at Bullock Creek.