Five Far North schools win $6190 NRC environmental awards
8 Aug 2014
Schools around New Zealand are being challenged to convert to solar power for their energy supply to match the efforts of a tiny Northland Regional Council award-winning school in the Far North.
Te Hiku constituency councillor Dennis Bowman with students from the Far North's Peria School, where its solar conversion efforts have earned a $2000 Northland Regional Council Environmental Curriculum Award.
"We need the sort of innovative approach that's happening at Peria School for moving ahead into the future and managing our world today for the people of tomorrow," says the regional council's Te Hiku constituency representative Dennis Bowman.
Councillor Bowman's comments came at Peria School where he this handed over one of the council's 2014 Environmental Curriculum Awards recognising the school's solar power conversion achievement through its project "Tama-nui-i-te-ra: Sustainability through solar energy".
"This is something important and really worth watching closely," Cr Bowman says.
The school, inland from Taipa, switched on 10 square metres of solar panelling atop its north-facing school hall roof in late June.
It aims to produce almost all its power from the sun, selling excess electricity back to the national grid in summer and its efforts are attracting growing interest from other schools.
Principal Jason Tane, a driving force behind the project, has been invited to speak about the conversion at an upcoming Far North Principals' Association meeting in Taipa.
School families and the local community are watching with interest with at least one household already converting to solar power energy sourcing and more considering the switch. (The school will host an information evening shortly to share its conversion story with the community.).
Mr Tane says the conversion had cost roughly $20,000, but expects the school's annual power bill to shrink from up to $8000 a year to just $1500.
The conversion comes after student-driven investigations began last year looking into a range of power production options for the school.
Peria School hopes installing solar power will showcase the option to its counterparts around New Zealand – showing how to reduce both schools' environmental footprints and financial costs.
The school which received $2000 from the NRC towards its project, is one of five in the Far North sharing a combined $6190 slice of this year's Environmental Curriculum Awards (ECAs).
The annual awards aim to foster excellence in environmental education, with schools eligible for up to $2000 each for their efforts to educate children 'in, about and for' the region's environment.
This year 13 award winners across Northland received between $400 and $2000 each for their 15 projects. Six winning schools are based in the Far North; Ahipara School ($680), Bay of Islands International Academy ($980), Broadwood Area School ($530), Oromahoe School ($2000) and Peria School ($2000).
The Far North cheques are presented by either Cr Bowman, Joe Carr (who represents the council's Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency) or the Honourable Dover Samuels (Coastal North constituency).
Meanwhile, of the remaining winners, six are based in the Whangarei district and two in Kaipara. The ECAs this year recognise and support the environmental education efforts put in by more than 1100 Northland in more than 70 classes and/or school student environmental groups.