The mahi hasn’t stopped since Palmerston North Girls’ High School (PNGHS) celebrated their Enviroschools Green-Gold status! (See article here)
In line with the Enviroschools kaupapa of creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and working together, PNGHS Envirogroup students and Sustainability committee invited youth from across the Horizons (Manawatū – Whanganui) Region and further afield to a Sustainability hui in August. The invitation went out to all secondary schools not just those that are engaged in the Enviroschools programme. Approximately 45 students from six schools attended from as far away as Hawke’s Bay.
The hui, titled New Beginnings, was an opportunity to connect students to a sustainability challenge/wero and form a network of youth.
PNGHS Envirogroup leader and student hui organiser, Eve Hill, said the hui was led by youth, for youth.
“The purpose of the hui was to encourage and inspire students to become more environmentally conscious, and bring awareness to the small initiatives they could take on as an individual, a school, or a community. By bringing hearts and minds together at the hui, we hoped our shared passion for the planet can drive transformative change beyond what we ever imagined.” – Eve Hill, student organiser
Visiting students were treated with a snapshot of the PNGHS’ sustainability journey, before being taken on a tour around some of their projects. Participants heard from a number of teachers and students from the school, talking about what sustainability means to them.
PNGHS Envirogroup leader Maddi Coenders commented, “It is good to gather such a diverse group of students together to talk about sustainability.”
“Two things I would encourage youth to do. The first is to find your passion. Work out what inspires you, what makes you happy, because this will help guide you to be a successful you. The second is to find your voice. Practice your communication skills. Ask questions and learn how to bring people together. Good communication skills will serve you well for the rest of your life.” – Michael Reihana Smith, Kaiuringi Student Coordinator, Massey University
Guest panellists included Daniel Morrimore (Manawatū Food Action Network), Georgina Morrison (Environment Hubs Aotearoa), Dr Alison Collins (Departmental Chief Science Advisor, Ministry for the Environment), Shaun Delamanche (Organiser of Climate Action Week Palmerston North), Tamsin Laird and Michael Reihana Smith (Massey University), and Ash Muralidhar (Youth Network Support Coordinator at Forest and Bird). And there was even a video message from Forest and Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki.
“I was inspired to hear of the maturity and willingness of the rangitahi to search for positive actions to tackle climate change and other big issues facing our planet. For most adults talking about these issues in itself is a challenge, and the scale of the problem can easily lead to anxiety and a feeling of helplessness. Organising this hui to allow a space to get these thoughts out into the open, and find mutual support was such an important step for the organisers and the participants. As a member of the panel, I came away feeling inspired that there is a new generation of aware and thoughtful high school youth that will add their collective voice and effort to those of us wanting to make a positive difference to the state of the planet”. – Guest speaker Daniel Morrimore (MFAN)
In the afternoon, teachers who had accompanied the students, branched off and heard from PNGHS teachers about how they have embedded sustainability into the secondary curriculum and what tips and tricks they can use.
Meanwhile, students competed in teams in an amazing race style challenge completing a series of activities such as matching the equivalent word to “Hello,” in several different languages and to the corresponding language (PNGHS has a Welcome Wall, situated on the school Huia Centre featuring welcome phrases in 38 languages that reflect the diversity of the students and community in Palmerston North). Participants got to try their hand at sorting rubbish into what can be recycled, composted or put into the landfill. They also had to complete a robotics activity.
“I wanted this to be a hui that leaves students ready to enact sustainable change in their community. I feel really grateful that we were able to kōrero with so many experts on the future of sustainability.”- PNGHS student hui organiser Mina Gagic
‘It’s fantastic that students are keen to hear about the work that is being done to mitigate contaminant leaching into the environment. Youth Hui like today are important, as they encourage our future leaders to understand what can be done to reduce harm to the environment, and also inspire young people to get more involved in science.’ – Tamsin Laird, Project Co-ordinator in Catchment Community Engagement & Outreach School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University