Despite the constraints of Covid 19 on their community and the challenges that brought, resilience and adaptability shone through! Waiheke Primary students and staff that were able to get to school on Friday 25 March 2022 shared their sustainability journey evidence and explained why they were a Green-Gold Enviroschool.
Waiheke Primary School students were determined to carry out their reflection “live” and declined the opportunity last year to use the jam board online reflection tool we developed during Lockdown. They stood strong in the kaupapa of Enviroschools and forged on with their journey live. In their opinion it was about tangata – people, in the taiao – environment, learning together and taking action for the environment.
Despite their best intentions it turned out to be a day when the school had the highest absenteeism due to COVID in the entire pandemic. Not to be deterred everyone was safely masked, distanced and working outside or in the high-ceilinged hall with all the doors and windows open. The mihi whakatau was heartfelt and recognised the mahi the school had done in a mix of te reo Māori and English. Waiata was a surprise as this was the first time students had sung together for seven months (droplets of COVID can potentially be spread through singing). Sadly, there was no hongi. Kai was eaten from everyone’s own lunchbox. By being thoughtful tikanga was still observed.
Students split into three groups and shared their stories and evidence with the visiting Enviroschools facilitators Nicky Elmore and Hazel Meadows. Nicky and Hazel were shown and told about many aspects of school life that the students were proud of.
Being ever adaptable one group of students shared via Zoom with Kristin from Waiheke Resources Trust (as her family were in COVID isolation). Kristin is the main facilitator in the Waiheke Local Board Schools’ Marine Education Initiative, so has worked closely with students on their action projects. Students have had opportunities to learn about the local waterways and marine environment and understand how young people can make a difference. Being an island community means that learning about the coastal ecosystem is very much part of the local curriculum of the school. Local Board funded projects such as this, when carefully planned and integrated, enrich student learning and action outcomes.
Engagement with Travelwise has helped the school and community consider changes to their school travel and increased biking and walking to and from school which is seen as effective Climate Change Action.
Students have measured the water quality in the stream that runs by their school, through the local skateboard park and past the transfer station out to Anzac Bay. They have taken action through participating in wetland planting.
Understanding the relevance of minimising waste to landfill and keeping plastic out of the ocean the students have revised their school waste systems.
Growing food has been given extra meaning through engagement in the Garden to Table programme supporting students to learn about seasonal produce and how to prepare these to share.
Students were delighted to be sharing their rich evidence, told through photo images and stories then recorded on green leaves and added to their Green-Gold Reflection Tree. Autumn leaves represented “work in progress”. Their next steps, to keep their journey towards sustainability alive and progressing, were recorded on red leaves and added to the tree.
Waiheke Primary truly embraced the Enviroschools kaupapa of, “Creating a healthy, peaceful sustainable world through people learning and taking action together”.
The kaupapa of Enviroschools to Waiheke Primary School is symbolic of a raft between the hulls of a voyaging waka.
When the first people crossed the Pacific, the raft was a platform to stand on together between the double hulled waka as it moved in the waves and the moving sea.
The Enviroschools kaupapa represents this raft. It is a place to stand when looking forward and navigating your way on your Enviroschools journey. The kaupapa grounds us, even though the platform is shifting in these uncertain times we have resilience and a touchstone to ground us. Waiheke Primary were resilient and guided by the strong Enviroschools kaupapa to navigate their Green-Gold reflection despite the tumultuous challenges COVID created.
The Waiheke Primary School tamariki decided that – “We are a Green-Gold Enviroschool because after all these years, we deserve it. We tried really hard, and we are proud. From year 0 to 8, we all take care of our kura and clean up, as we look after te whenua, and nurture each other. We also share ideas, have green spaces, connect to nature and Papatūānuku, and we have fun school programmes and events. We are always learning, and we enjoy trying to find solutions to problems, as we take action together”.
“I have been privileged to work alongside Waiheke Primary for many years now and have seen first-hand the deepening commitment to Enviroschools, specifically at the management level which filters down to the learning experiences tamariki have open to them. Your journey has been consistent and developed over time. It is really great to see you have mahi which represents all the Green-Gold paragraph sentences with a strong commitment to continue to grow.” – Nicky Elmore, Enviroschools Facilitator
The journey of learning and action for a sustainable community continues with plans to strengthen understanding of local history and engagement with Mana Whenua. Students are also interested in learning more about the healing qualities of plants.
Because the school has a number of small buildings on site, these could prove interesting areas to view through the lens of Ecological Building. Facilitator Nicky is excited about talking to teachers about how they might work with their tamariki utilising this recently revised Enviroschools Theme area resource.
To mark the celebration, a locally sourced kōwhai tree was planted in the school grounds – another small but significant contribution to the Waiheke ecology.
To end a day of joyful sharing, students held up a large banner for all whānau coming to pick up tamariki to see they were a Green-Gold Enviroschool!