News and Events

Sustainable Celebrations explored

March 20, 2024

An event to support students in planning for waste-free Matariki events

A recent event organised by Enviroschools facilitators in Te Whanganui-a-Tara sought the collective wisdom of the community in finding sustainable ways to run events and aim for zero waste. There is no waste in nature and there was very little waste in early societies, so what could this mean for celebrations?

In the challenge to engage with zero waste solutions, Enviroschools heard from whānau, kaiako and tamariki that “nood” (no wrapper) food lunchboxes can be shaming and unachievable, so the opportunity for creative and innovative co-design was explored.

 “In Enviroschools we have lots of opportunities to celebrate and create special occasions with our community and in tune with our environment and seasonal changes.” – Enviroschools Kit, Sustainable Celebrations p 268

Starting with the question, “What do families need from learning centres to help achieve the aspiration for zero waste?” Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui designed an event that would take the focus away from individual lunchboxes and look at Enviroschool-wide events.

Capital Kids get to explore the Sharing Library decorations.

Facilitator, Chloe Bisley-Wright reached out to the network in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and organised an experience for schools and centres with the aim of igniting a conversation with whānau about waste minimisation and celebrations.

Tamariki attending were from across a range of ages, with 4 yr olds from Capital Kids Cooperative, senior students from Seatoun School and year 3 students from Newtown School. People came by bus, walked or carpooled to the event. Tamariki were invited to consider what had been done in past events and then imagine how it could be in the future. Their ideas were captured around minimising waste created during a celebration.

The morning event explored planning a sustainable Matariki celebration through a series of experiences set up at stations, focused on reusable decorations, composting kai waste, and vessels (plates, cups, etc) to be either composted or washed and reused. It embraced the Enviroschools Guiding Principle Sustainable Communities and invited respectful participation in conversation and listening to achieve a shared goal.


We’re on an āporo/ apple hunt!

This event was hosted by Island Bay and Berhampore Community Orchard, with one station facilitated by tamariki who were very familiar with this special place. Manu Desmond (6) and Jesse Blakely (9.5) shared the story of Berhampore Primary’s low waste breakfast club initiative, an inclusive to all breakfast before school.

Jesse’s mum, Cathy, is treasurer at the Berhampore Community Orchard. She was delighted when asked if the orchard would host the event. Cathy organises the breakfast club at Berhampore School. A roster of parent volunteers help serve toast, muffins, fruit and smoothies two mornings a week before school starts. The food is donated by community. They have an inclusive approach that is generous, welcoming and open to all. Cathy bakes the kai and makes the smoothies and brings it in and there are toasters at school with a variety of spreads (although children prefer raspberry jam hands down!). The kai is served on plates and cups that are washable and food waste is composted.


Seatoun students blending a smoothie with support from Claire Reddish of Enviroschools.

A smoothie bike was hired from Hopper Refilley and fruit donated by Kaibosh so that tamariki could ”pedal for their morning tea”. A Sharing Library Kit of reusable decorations (that could be used again and again) was drawn up from a challenge to decorate the space. The decoration items were gifted by Wellington City Council Tip Shop, who are also happy to continue to gather supplies for these resource kits. This idea was originally shared by Moriah Kindergarten and was taken on by Seatoun School for their upcoming school disco.

Manu from Berhampore Primary observed that some students had never eaten an apple straight off a tree, and celebrated how memorable it was for those who had never ridden a bike. Tamariki made the connection that fresh fruit produces no waste.

Another station was Kaicycle, with hands on compost making. Students enjoyed celebrating what they have been achieving at their school – saving the earth with compost.



Seatoun and Capital Kids learn together, presenting their new knowledge about bauxite’s transformation into drink cans facilitated by Chloe Bisley-Wright of Enviroschools.

The Enviroschools station invited students to think of special places they love to play – beach, ocean, trees, hills, sand dunes, and then challenged them to discover what their everyday items are made from. Through the Transformers Activity in the Zero Waste Theme Area kit, they discovered how steel is extracted from black sand, glass from silica sand, plastic from the ocean floor, paper and cardboard from trees and aluminium from quarries. Students considered how they could look after these special places they love to play in by reducing, reusing, recycling, composting.

Wellington City Council (WCC) Waste Educators built on the visits and relationships they had with the learning centres, seeing the Sustainable Celebrations event as an opportunity to identify and overcome barriers to implement change.



Newtown school students planning for a waste free matariki/puanga event along with Lorraine WCC Waste Educator.

After the event, Seatoun enviro leaders met with the parent committee. Ideas were heard from both sides, discussions held, and compromises made. ‘The overall effect is more sustainable’ -Wendy Bamer – Kaiako Seatoun School

Newtown Primary received a special gift from Munch Cupboard at the end of the event – food pouches to take back to school for smoothies with fruit from their garden.

And there was a sweet end to a wonderful sustainable event – the Community Orchard gifted each school and centre a jar of honey from the hives at the orchard!