Environmental Leaders Fund unveils climate conscious winners

14 Feb 2024, 10:22 AM

Climate resilience and adaptation was a strong focus for the Northland Regional Council’s, 2023 Environmental Leaders Fund (ELF) that received an impressive 40 applications from across Te Taitokerau.

Two children with compost.2022 Environmental Leadership Fund recipients Portland School show off their composting station.

Twenty successful applicants were given up to $3000 each to turn climate positive projects into reality. These forward-thinking projects were aimed at enhancing biodiversity, nurturing te taiao (the environment) and caring for the earth’s resources.

Project examples included establishing on site compost stations, growing flourishing food forests, exploring the use of wool mats for biodegradable weed prevention and seed propagation.

Northland Regional Council Chair Geoff Crawford says the record number of applications reflects that as the climate changes, so must we.

“As the climate changes we must evolve our practices and continually adjust our actions to reduce risk.” “The projects being undertaken by each of these schools and centres shows that the younger generation is committed to exploring new opportunities to adapt to our changing climate and are forging a sustainable path forward.”

“We want to continue supporting our communities to make these changes and ELF is a great way for the younger generation to learn and expand their knowledge and skills in the climate resilience space.”

Surplus to the fund, the Toimata Foundation gifted numerous gardening tools - which some of the schools and centres were also awarded. The schools that received Toimata tools were Bay of Islands College, Kaihu School, Kawakawa Primary, Kerikeri Primary, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa, and Te Kura o Hato Hohepa Te Kamura.

Successful applicants are given one year to submit a project completion report including photos of the completed project.

A list of successful ELF applications per district:


  • Paparoa School – Project Paparoa, processing waste on site
  • Te Kopuru School – processing waste on site


  • Hurupaki School – Towards Hurupaki wetland development
  • Kamo High School – Community food propagation system
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa – Toitū Te Rāwhitiroa, growing kai and processing waste
  • Te Kura o Otangarei / I Have a Dream Charitable Trust – Oasis in Otangarei – improving biodiversity
  • Waiotira Primary School – Waiotira Mara Kai Nui, growing kai, improving biodiversity, exploring alternative energy and reducing emissions
  • Whangārei Boys’ High School – Riparian planting of Waiarohia Stream

Far North:

  • Inspiring Minds (early education centre) – Garden to table
  • Horeke School – Towards maara kai
  • Harinui Early Learning Centre (three and under) - Mini recycling station
  • Kaingaroa School – Ngahere restoration
  • Kawakawa Primary School – Rongoā garden project
  • Bay of Islands College – Mahi whenua – Food for whanāu
  • Kerikeri High School – Environmental hub
  • Kerikeri Primary- Rongoa Garden Project
  • Kohukohu School – Harbour protection
  • Ngataki School – Food forest and native area
  • Peria School – Save the greenhouse, improving biodiversity
  • Te Kura o Hato Hohepa Te Kamura – Whakapapa of kai, community māra