Teachers (kaiako) from our Enviroschools Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centres in the Manawatū Whanganui region were invited to join us for a fun, interactive day where they could learn some practical skills, connect with each other and feel empowered. We hadn’t had the opportunity to run this type of hui for a while and it was great way to bring our ever-enthusiastic ECE kaiako together again.
“It was such a fantastic day. I’m so inspired with new ideas and contacts.” – ECE kaiako feedback
We held this hui in early May with 23 kaiako from 16 early childhood education centres attending from across the region. The theme for the day was Sustainable Communities through Kai, where we looked to strengthen connections with the land that nurtures us, and the people that collectively contribute to food supply and security.
The day started off at one of our Silver Enviroschools, Mount Biggs School in Manawatū. They welcomed us with a pōwhiri. The teachers and students have been working hard at the process of a traditional pōwhiri as part of their school values that link well with the Enviroschools kaupapa of Māori perspectives (one of the Enviroschools Guiding Principles).
This awesome experience filled my kete of knowledge and inspire me. Thank you. – ECE kaiako feedback
We then had our first guest speaker for the day from Para Kore who talked about zero waste with a te Ao Māori lens. Our first activity was to delve into identifying the current situation on what is our some of our largest food waste items are and there were a few surprises in there. We then looked at ways we can improve food sustainability over time.
This was followed by our next guest speaker from the Manawatū Food Action Network (MFAN) who discussed food security, food resilience and the ultimate goal or “maunga teitei” or food sovereignty. Part of his role as MFAN co-ordinator is to facilitate community food initiatives, provide advocacy and education, skills transfer, and waste minimisation.
Projects that Enviroschools can engage with include seed exchange libraries, help with setting up gardens, compost systems and pātaka kai. Enviroschools also has a role in sharing knowledge and resources at various hui.
We then headed out to Mount Lees Reserve which is just a short drive from the school. The Reserve which used to be a farm has a historic homestead surrounded by an impressive mix of native and exotic bush. We have been utilising this space for holding Enviroschools facilitator meetings and were excited to hold this event here.
After a lunch break and a look around the reserve, teachers participated in six rotations including growing microgreens, building a compost bin, seed saving and swapping, and an introduction to maramataka. We had Sarah from Edible Gardens as part of these rotations and she gave a short talk on how to layer a garden and what to plant to get the most out of your garden space, highlighting that with smart planning, even a small garden area can produce a range of vegetables and fruit.
There was an opportunity for seed swapping, and choosing a book from the array of recipe and gardening books available, sourced from second hand shops. Participants also took back to their centres a goodie bag that contained seeds, resources, seed cubes for native trees and a gardening set for tamariki to use.
Kaiako left inspired and energised and we can’t wait to see all the new projects related to sustainable kai.
How lucky were we, being able to attend this fabulous learning opportunity?! So many amazing resources that we can tap into along with hearing stories from others. Thank you all so much for organising a great day out. – ECE kaiako