Tuakana/Teina Relationships Alive and Well in Wainuiomata Schools

| By Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui

Mā te tuakana te teina e tōtika, Mā te teina te tuakana e tōtika.
The older will lead the younger and the younger will lead the older.

When, in September 2018, Wainuiomata High School called and asked their neighbouring primary school for help, Konini Primary teachers thought perhaps the secondary school might like help with fundraising, or perhaps they were being invited to view a performance.

In fact something quite different was in play – the secondary students wanted the primary students’ advice. They were asking if the Konini Envirogroup could teach the secondary students everything they knew about being an Enviroschool.

Sharing a journey

Exchanging ideas

Together the two schools chose a day for ten students and three teachers from Wainuiomata High School to come to Konini Primary.

They came to learn as part of their Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) week and were trusting their local primary students to teach them.

The Konini students welcomed their tuākana into a classroom and asked them to join the circle of chairs in the room. From there, the Konini students shared their Enviroschools journey so far. They spoke about their exploration of Me in My Environment, creating a Vision and their plans to develop a care code.

They also shared some of the action they had taken including building garden boxes, tracking and trapping predators, reducing waste, and monitoring water quality with the Mountains to Sea Conservation trust. They discussed how they had worked on the Enviroschools Guiding Principles, in particular student empowerment.

Expanding on ideas

Tuakana/Teina in action in Wainuiomata

This relationship wasn’t going to be one sided though. The Konini students wanted some help in return.
They asked the secondary students if they could come and take a look at the adjoining land between their schools.

They explained that they wanted to do something to increase the biodiversity and to have an outdoor classroom space. They wanted the older students to share in some brainstorming around what they could do to make it happen, which they could incorporate into an application for a Treemendous Makeover.

The whole group split into smaller groups focussing on some key questions:

  • How can we create an environment that will allow us to learn in and about nature?
  • What sort of nature would we like to attract to our school?
  • How could we do this? What would we need to do this?

The groups explored particular ideas like butterfly gardens or wētā or lizard habitats. They thought about what they might need to consider or study first and who they might need to ask for assistance. In this instance the secondary students let their leadership skills shine as they asked the younger students open ended questions and offered up ideas to support their thinking.

The whole day was an incredible example of manaakitanga in action. The adults involved found it uplifting to see teenagers behave with interest, humility and open mindedness. The primary students showed empowered leadership, deep thinking and connection to their school.

It was a day that both schools will remember as the beginning of something special.

Sustainability Big Idea:
In any strong and well functioning society there will be reciprocity of teaching and learning between generations and age-groups.

Teaming together to plant.

A shared idea comes to fruition

Six months later, the opportunity to fulfill the dream outdoor classroom they had discussed with the Wainuiomata students came true for Konini. They received news that they were the recipients of the Treemendous school makeover.

The community lobbied together and in May 2019 they planted hundreds of native trees around their field, leading to some outdoor seating in their newly designated outdoor classroom space.

The students now regularly spend time in their new outdoor classroom space, for art, science, writing and reading. They have started checking for native lizards making their home in the new trees, and are anticipating an increase in bird life to their grounds.

The Wainuiomata High School students found it really exciting to see the primary school transform as a result of their planning day.

The finished space

The happy Treemendous Makeover team


(Banner photo: A space with potential)