Four schools, kindergarten reach Enviroschools milestones

22 Dec 2014

Four Northland schools and a kindergarten have reached important milestones through the national Enviroschools programme.

Enviroschools Dargaville Silver Award.Dargaville Intermediate's Phoebe Godfrey, Adam McCarroll and Sione Uele accept an Enviroschools Silver sign from Northland Regional Council Kaipara councillor (and Deputy Chairman) Graeme Ramsey and Enviroschools Regional Co-ordinator Susan Karels recently. (Photo: Dargaville and Districts News.)

Bill Shepherd, chairman of the Northland Regional Council, says 71 Northland schools and three kindergartens are now in the popular programme, which is a whole school approach to sustainability.

"The programme is about student-driven action for designing and creating sustainable schools, ecosystems, local neighbourhoods and beyond, and is funded in Northland by the regional council."

Councillor Shepherd says the Enviroschools programme also comes with its own system of recognition for the way participating schools embed a sustainability philosophy in their school life and into their local communities.

The recognition comes in three bands; Bronze, Silver and the rarest Green-Gold (which just a handful of Northland schools hold).

Two Northland schools – Dargaville Intermediate and Otaika Valley – recently achieved Silver status this year, joining just eight others to have done so over the past eight years, while Peria and Poroti Schools, and Portland Kindergarten, had achieved Bronze.

"For each of them, this new status represents a big milestone in their Enviroschools' journey."

In Dargaville Intermediate's case that journey has included it becoming a regional leader in growing, selling, planting and maintaining riparian plants. It also has

ongoing involvement with the Baylys Beach CoastCare group, planting spinifex and pingao on dunes.

Fellow Silver recipient Otaika Valley School plans much of its curriculum around environmental topics, regularly eating and selling from school vegetable gardens and long-running enterprise with its chickens 'The Cluckdashions'. The school is also planning to grow riparian plants for its wetland and neighbouring river.

Bronze recipient Peria School has embraced solar power technology and is leading the solar-way for schools throughout New Zealand with solar investigations integrated into all subjects. Gardens (edible and native) flourish, including a citrus orchard and planting of a heritage apple orchard is also underway.

Fellow Bronze school Poroti also has an intensive involvement with gardening, cooking and eating as well as raising chickens. Recent initiatives include making scarecrows to guard their gardens and an experiment to re-use plastic bottles as salad seed nurseries.

Meanwhile, this year's youngest Bronze recipients are from Portland Kindergarten, which has a variety of sustainable practices including possum trapping, worm farming, composting, gardening and recycling and are keen conservers of water.

Children grow vegetables at kindergarten, cook, eat and take them home. They have also been working to transform a nearby bush area into a safe learning space.

Councillor Shepherd says the regional council congratulates all this year's recipients and encourages them to keep up the great work.

"They're all – in their own ways – making a real difference to their schools and local communities."

He says information on Enviroschools is available from the regional council's website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools