Thirteen schools share NRC environmental awards

27 Jun 2014

Projects including converting a school to solar power and building mobile kiwi homes are among 15 school initiatives to share $15,820 in this year’s Northland Regional Council 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 recipients will receive between $400 and $2000 each for their 15 projects. (Bay of Islands International Academy and Waipu School are each being funded for two projects).

Regional council chairman Bill Shepherd and Councillor Craig Brown – who selected this year's winners – were impressed by the scope and quality of projects which will see the enthusiastic involvement of hundreds of people across entire school communities.

Councillor Shepherd says the ECAs recognise and support the environmental education efforts put in by more than 1120 students in 69 classes and/or school student environmental groups

Councillor Brown added: "It's also great to once again see a good geographic spread with six of our winning schools based in the Far North, seven in the Whangarei district and two in Kaipara."

Projects include the tiny Peria School inland from Mangonui in the Far North which is among the first schools in New Zealand to convert totally to solar power and sell its excess energy back to the national grid; another on the Purerua Peninsula where the school will build and manage kiwi boxes to encourage the iconic bird; and a third at Broadwood which is using a NIWA water quality testing kit to develop a monitoring programme in local waterways.

A full list of the winning schools and the funding for their projects (GST exclusive) follows:

Ahipara School
Project: Bring Back Butterflies
Funding: $680
Funding towards creating a schoolground butterfly garden – boosting students' knowledge of biology and gardening as well as schoolground biodiversity.

Bay of Islands International Academy
Project: Helping Our Kiwi and Wonderful Worms
Funding: $980
Funding towards two projects extending its B.O.I.I.A Recovery Mission programme at the Purerua Peninsula school. The Helping Our Kiwi project will get $520 to build 10 kiwi boxes that students will manage from school, putting them out among schoolground native bush and the local area to provide homes and breeding opportunity for the area's increasing kiwi population. The Wonderful Worms project will get $455 for a worm farm to make school food waste into fertiliser for planned vegetable gardens.

Broadwood Area School
Project: NIWA SHMAK Water Quality Testing Kit
Funding: $530
Funding for a testing kit to to monitor water quality and develop a local freshwater database as part of working with the community to restore the local freshwater environment.

Kamo Intermediate
Project: Islands of Life (2014)
Funding: $490
Funding to its long term Islands of Life (IOL) project with planting replenishment.

Kamo Primary School
Project: Bottle Greenhouse
Funding: $400
Funding towards renovating the school's greenhouse to use as a potting shed for native and vegetable seedlings.

Mangawhai Beach School
Project: Whanaungatanga
Funding: $1300
Funding towards a schoolground whanaungatanga area – a quiet space for students. Planter boxes will be used to teach sustainability priniciples.

Oromahoe School
Project: Catch it while you can!
Funding: $2000
Funding towards a water tank to water the school's 1000 square metres of schoolground gardens. These comprise vegetables, fruit and native trees. The tank will ensure better garden survival over summer and provide lessons in sustainable water use.

Otaika School
Project: OVS Garden Centre
Funding: $2000
Funding for a garden shed to store gardening equipment. Edible gardens, chickens for producing eggs for food and sale, water harvesting, orchards and a wide range of other sustainable land uses are part of the school's well-established environmental education programme encouraging students to be kaitiaki of their environment.

Peria School
Project: Tama-nui-te-ra: Sustainability through solar energy
Funding: $2000
Funding towards a school solar power system – harnessing the energy from Tama-nui-te-ra (the sun). The isolated country school will produce 90-100 percent (winter) and 100-120 percent (summer) of its energy requirements through installing solar panels onto its hall roof. Surplus power will be sold to the national grid. The school hopes installing solar power will showcase the option to its counterparts around New Zealand – showing how to reduce schools' environmental footprints and improve finances.

Poroti School
Project: The Living Garden – mulching
Funding: $1500
Funding towards upgrading its seven-year-old gardens.

Ruakaka School
Project: Together We Shine
Funding: $1200
Funding towards creating a State Highway One student lineup along the school's boundary fence. This comprises eye-catching, brightly painted life-sized images on plywood of each of the school's 165 students. These will be attached to the fence, looking out onto the more than 10,000 vehicles passing the school every day. The children will hold hands to illustrate how the school works together, illustrating the principle of kaitiakitanga or guardianship to look after its community and its future.

Tangiteroria School
Project: Sustainable Orchard
Funding: $1750
Funding towards expanding its schoolground orchard to provide more flowers for bee pollination and in turn fruit to harvest for eating and preserving. Honey produced by the school hives is sold and used to make soap and skincare products.

Waipu School
Project: Creating Raised Gardens and Irrigation of Edible Garden
Funding: $990
Funding towards two projects – building raised garden beds and installing irrigation for these and an existing schoolground orchard.