News and Events

Local Curriculum reaps Green-Gold for Makaraka

May 26, 2021
Tāmaki Makaurau Enviroschools Facilitator, Nicky Elmore, has reflected on her day visiting Makaraka school with the Enviroschools Tairāwhiti team. She has shared what stood out for her about the Enviroschools Green-Gold status of Makaraka School, although was quick to point out that the students, staff and whānau of Makaraka really owned the process and that she was only there for a short time.


The manaakitanga shown to us (visitors) was a welcoming embrace of generosity felt throughout the day. It began with the pōwhiri and continued through the day as the tamariki sharing their stories, kai was shared and thoughtful reflection carried out.

Reflections on the Enviroschools Guiding Principles to consider alignment to the Green-Gold statement.

The students were fully engaged. They were so keen to share, so knowledgeable and fun to spend time with. The students had rewritten the Green-Gold sentences into their own words, which made the reflection process a true reflection of their understanding and what they think they look, feel and act like as a Green-Gold Enviroschool.

The classrooms were full of examples of students leading and sharing their learning.  The walls, floors, desks and spaces were covered with visual displays of great student- led learning.


There were examples of holistic inclusion of Māori Perspectives being woven through curriculum, tikanga and values. “Nga Atua” was the 2020 inquiry with each class exploring their class name Rūaumoko, Tangaroa, Rongomātāne, Tānemahuta and Tāwhirimātea.

The Atua Māori had genuine meaning for the students, and they respected and understood their attributes. There are 5 vibrantly painted pou around the school landscape that represent Atua.

Solar panels on the classrooms.

The students have been following an action inquiry for several years relating to solar energy. More recently the school has been saving money and getting funding to buy 36 solar panels to efficiently use the sun’s rays to power the school instead of using normal power.

After a lot of hard work and commitment these are now installed. This involved students and the whole community. It is an ongoing learning project with continual monitoring of the solar power production and ideas coming forward for effective use. Here is the pdf of their solar presentation they shared. 2020_ES_Gisborne_Makaraka_The solar panel story

Local curriculum being embraced in local ngahere.

There is extensive community engagement and this is reciprocal. Their learning outside the classroom helps students explore their local environment and connect with local marae, people, community and experts. They visit sites of significance and hear pūrākau/ stories. The school has on-going engagement with kaumatua within the community and has developed strong connections with their local marae, Tarere. Teachers have attended a PD programme with iwi education “Te Puawaitanga”. The whole school is involved in planting and maintaining native plantings at Tarere Marae.


“Our local curriculum is based around the Tairāwhiti stories which tell the history of the region and tipuna or ancestors who have done incredible deeds. This promotes meaningful, authentic and localised experiences and results in students’ engagement and success,” – principal, Hayden Swann.

Paintings depicting local pūrākau. Also see banner image.

A huge respect for their place is shown by tamariki, and stories of Makaraka are shared through murals, school productions and included in their Vision Map. This was also reflected in their next steps identified insuring that everyone can see, understand and continue to keep momentum on Makaraka’s Enviroschools journey.

Every Enviroschool needs the commitment of management and staff.  It was obvious that this is strong for Makaraka with management, environmental leadership and support from all staff (including the property manager).  There is total commitment and willingness to continue to grow as well.

“I am grateful to have been a part of celebrating Makaraka’s Enviroschools Journey and am so excited that they consider themselves a Green-Gold Enviroschool. They have shared strong evidence around all the Green-Gold paragraph sentences and are keen to continue deepening and broadening their journey along their awa to the sea.  They tell me the sea refuses no river!!” – Nicky Elmore, Enviroschools facilitator, Tāmaki Makarau/ Auckland

Students show the process of their learning.

Rich learning – Vibrant displays.









“We are so proud of our efforts over the past 7 years since becoming a Bronze in 2013 and Silver in 2016. Thank you to our staff and whole community for the effort in being a sustainable and environmentally kind community.” – Makaraka School


Tamariki chat to visitors about the companion plants in their māra kai.

There a a series of pou around the school landscape that represent Atua Māori. Here students talk about the attributes of Tānemahuta.













Makaraka School Vision.

The school continues to  apply their vision statement “Every decision we make or idea we have we will be thinking: Is this choice sustainable for Papatuanuku?” most recently for their fundraising zero waste disco by providing glow face paint instead of glow sticks as one of the decisions.