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Waikato schools and early childhood centres have got projects galore!  Here's just a few of the ones that have been documented lately...

Newcastle Kindergarten presented with Green-Gold status

Several years of earth-saving work has paid off for Newcastle Kindergarten which has reached the highest level in the Enviroschools programme. The Centre is the second kindergarten in the Waikato to be recognised.

Head teacher Tanz Podjursky said it was a "sense of empowerment" for the teaching staff and children to achieve the award. 

One of the Kindergarten's proudest accomplishments is assisting with the Hakarimata planting project run by  Waikato District Council. Once a term the children will visit the site to be involved with the maintenance of the plants they have grown.

An ultimate goal is to become a zero-waste centre, which the kindy is well on its way to achieving.

May 2017

Congratulations Goldfields School on your Green-Gold Reflection!

Principal Gary Quarless is impressed at the level of accomplishment the students and staff have made, and proud of the depth of teaching and learning.

Gary stated how "The external facilitators, two of whom were part of the team who originally set up Enviroschools, were quite simply blown away by our efforts. One even said "if only mainstream school could see what your staff and students do", a huge compliment to everyone's capability and work," he said.

The presentations from student leaders from each class developed over the last term were a real highlight. The presentations included how P1 recycles and reuses, the Paper for Trees project, how to make and care for raised gardens, the art of making good compost and taking food scraps from the kitchen to feed the worms.

The following student leaders received a special mention for awesomeness from Gary: Andrew Trow, Caleb Starkey, Liam Grant, Logan Sissons, Maia Kauika, Mark Johns and Patrick Bond.

December 2016

Bringing back the birds to the Hauraki Plains


Students at Netherton Primary have initiated a vision to ‘bring back the birds’ to the Hauraki Plains. A milestone was realized this year when children planted out the first of the native trees that they had grown themselves in kahikatea remnant on a local farm.

Over five years ago, children were learning about ‘Te Ngahere’ and observed there were no native birds present at the school. They researched and invited a ranger from the Department of Conservation to give advice on how to bring back the birds. They discovered the kahikatea forest remnants on the Plains are the remains of a giant forest which once covered the entire area. They learnt that by securing these remnants through fencing and under-planting they would be able to provide habitat for birds which would also act as ‘bird islands’ for them to fly between.

They created an action plan to achieve this, learning that these stands were dying because of stock grazing under their canopy and there was no second generation forest to take their place. A meeting was held inviting local farmers to be part of the project. A partnership was also formed with Waikato Regional Council (WRC) who were happy to be part of providing some trees and to work with farmers to support them in fencing off existing stands of trees.

Last year WRC supplied around 700 trees and the children helped plant them. Meanwhile the school became part of the Trees for Survival Programme with funding from the Fonterra Grassroots Fund. This would allow them to grow their own native trees with a purpose built plant growing unit.

The Trees for Survival plant growing unit was set up in 2015 and the children had grown a mix of approx 500 manuka, harakeke, kahikatea, karamu and carex. This year the seedlings were ready to be planted out under a kahikatea remnant on Peter Corlett’s nearby farm, creating a precious understory of natives for the existing giants. Netherton Principal Tracey Adams sees it as “a great way to give back to the community” and intends for the ‘Kahikatea Project’ to be sustained long into the future. Mr Corlett said “It’s a great idea … it’s important what we do in our life… in years to come these kids will drive past this with their kids and know they have done something good”.

Netherton children hope by then, the birds will have made it back to their little school on the Hauraki Plains.

Article from Waikato Enviroschools blog, September 2016

Planting partnership bears many fruits

June 2016

A planting partnership between an award-winning Waikato farmer and children from his local school is bearing environmental fruit on many levels. Children from Tauwhare School between Hamilton and Cambridge recently visited dairy farmer Frank Portegys’ Scotsman Valley Rd farm for the fourth year on the trot to plant trees designed to protect waterways. Our pictures show children getting stuck into the work and a close up of five-year-old Shaun Mayall with a new planting.

The visits to Frank’s farm have been part of Tauwhare’s participation in the Enviroschools programme, which is supported by Waikato Regional Council. The council has also provided some $1500 in financial support to Frank under the Piako catchment’s new works programme aimed at protecting waterways from the effects of farming. Over the years, more than 1000 trees have been planted with school and council assistance on the property’s wetlands and besides its waterways. Tauwhare’s Enviroschools lead teacher Linda Cook – who praises Frank’s assistance for the schools’ programme - says the children get a lot out of visiting the farm.

“The benefit for the children is it’s embedding understanding around the importance of clean waterways. And, also, they’re getting to do work of direct benefit in their local area, and they can see the plants growing over time,” says Linda. Frank says he’s very keen to protect waterways in the area and enhance the environment generally, and is grateful for the pupils’ help.

“If you ask everyone they always want clean water. If you don’t do it properly, dairying is going to have effect on water,” says Frank, whose property has won awards in the Waikato section of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Council catchment management officer Warren Coffey says farmers can apply for up to 35 per cent of the costs of fencing and planting to protect and enhance waterways and wetlands, as well as soil conservation work such as preventing steep hillside erosion.

“It’s our way of supporting famers to make changes on their property that help provide environmental benefits for the wider community.” Ruairi Kelly, the council’s schools programmes coordinator, said the visits have enabled the Tauwhare children to learn about both the environment and farming.

“Tauwhare has done really well under Enviroschools – they’re a high-ranking Green-Gold school. “Enviroschools in the Waikato Region is supported by a team of facilitators who work with schools to engage on a long-term journey of learning and action over environmental issues. The work of Frank’s farm has been a great partnership between a proactive and caring farmer, and a school that’s been working really well on the environmental protection front.”

Article from Scoop Media

Nawton School develops medicinal plant garden

 To celebrate Matariki, Hamilton primary School pupils have opened their own rongoa (medicinal) garden. The Nawton School children have spent the last term learning about the science behind rongoa plants. The kids have been on field trips, researched plants, applied for funding from Waikato Regional Council and designed, planted and cared for the garden - all in their own time.


LEFT:Members of the schools enviro group 'Pride Heroes', Penelope Te Pania, Phoenix Nicholls, Jason Cheng, Siakumi Fakauai, Sapphire Harris and Jazmyn Kati, celebrate the competition of their Rongoa gardens.

Nawton have successfully reflected at a Silver level during 2015, where they held a whole school powhiri -the Day was a real celebration of the school's journey. There is a strong demonstration of empowered students creating a sustainable school community. Evidence that projects are being kept up and growing and new ideas are being added to journey. They received funding from Enviroschools fund (about $3800) for constructing a Maori medicinal garden to benefit their student's whanau and wider community. They asked for support to take their students to the Maori Medicinal Garden exhibition at Mystery Creek and then for the construction of the gardens. 75% of their students are Maori and The PRIDE HERO's (environmental leaders in the school) were instrumental in planning, researching, construction and continued care and maintenance and as co-pilots in the education involving all 24 classes in the school.

The aims of the project were to: Enable Nawton School students and community to learn from each other and to ensure ancestral practices are honoured and that the gardens are utilized to benefit not only the students but the wider community. To support the school to be more sustainable and develop their understanding of the importance of working together for the environment.


Enviroschools leader and Teacher Meika King said the long-term aim of the project is for the kids to be able to learn enough to use the plants, but this would involve getting in professional help from a rongoa practitioner. She said it is now the kids responsibility to water, weed and care for the garden. SChhol principal Rubina Wheeler said she looks forward to seeing how the garden grows, and how the plants will add to the richness of the school.

A journey of a lifetime for Hillcrest Normal students

Stacey Vowles, teacher from Hillcrest Normal Primary shares her experiences with the Virtual Great Walker competition win:

 Last year the Department of Conservation with sponsorship from Air NZ, ran the Virtual Great Walker competition, aimed at getting Kiwi kids out walking and learning about our national parks and native species.

To be eligible for the competition prize of a trip to one of the national parks, the groups were encouraged to explore their local parks, reserves and tracks until they had clocked up at least half the distance of their designated Great Walk. In addition, the groups had to compile a creative presentation to communicate what they had discovered and learned on their outdoor adventures. Read more here