Waitati Enviro School

Waitati School Environmental Code

1. We conserve energy by shutting doors to keep rooms warm and turning off appliances and lights when not in use

2. We conserve water by turning taps off properly

3. We care about our health so we eat a variety of healthy food and exercise regularly

4. We respect living creatures and enjoy watching them and not hurting them

5. We care for plants and trees by weeding and watering them and not hurting them

6. We are responsible for our waste by using compost bins and rubbish bins correctly

7. We limit the use of plastic wrapping and packaging; for example, in lunches

8. We conserve paper by re-using it and limiting photocopying and computer printing

9. We work on projects to improve and maintain our environment, such as the edible garden and swamp area

10. We consider everyone’s ideas by involving them in decision making about our environment.


The above code arose from Waitati School’s ‘School Code’ (We care about ourselves, our learning, each other and our environment) when somebody asked “What does ‘We care about the environment’ actually mean?” Thus began a process involving the children in decision making about an environmental care code. The envirogroup brainstormed and presented their ideas to the whole school, who then worked in whanau groups to add their ideas. The senior class then collated and synthesised all the ideas, and prioritised the code. Finally, it was presented to the wider school community through the newsletter.


Waitati Enviroschool is in good heart in 2010, with an attractive new Waitati School website and plenty of activities planned.


On this TT page you'll find general plans and direction to specifics on other sites. You'll also find the history of Waitati Enviroschool (see below).


Waitati Enviroschool's Story

Waitati School’s Education for Sustainability (EfS) History 2000-2003 (by Tania McLean)

Under the leadership of a new principal in 2000, and with a lead teacher studying for a Masters degree in Education for Sustainability (EfS), Waitati School began their EfS journey by focusing on their social environment. The six teachers at the school worked together to build a positive team and to improve the self esteem of the students. Students worked regularly as a ‘whanau group’ with younger students working with older students. This continued with the 2001 Kia Kaha programme and the students signing a contract to make Waitati School a bully free zone. During this time a school code was developed with the students: “I care about myself, I care about my learning, I care about others, I care about my environment”

Waitati School became a pilot school for EfS under the Ministry of Education contract to utilise the Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools (Ministry of Education, 1999). This involved developing a whole school holistic approach to Education for Sustainability (EfS). Students were involved in the IVAR cycle (Investigations, Visions, Action, Reflection) to investigate the school environment through surveying environmental practices and mapping. Students had a role in decision making about their learning and the actions they would take ‘for’ the environment.

One of the first experiences involving students in the decision making process occurred in regard to the issue of no hand towels in the school toilets. In the past students had been encouraged to bring their own towels, but invariably these were used for cleaning up spilt yoghurt, paints and drinks! Not very hygienic! Students investigated different options and costings for hand towels, led by the senior class. Their conclusion was that the pull down washable and reusable towels would be most suitable. Fortunately the Board of Trustees agreed, and the hand towels were promptly installed. This allowed the students to experience the decision making process and realise that they could have a say in the organisation of their environment.

After the hand towel experience in Terms 2 and 3, the students were involved in investigating their environment. The students conducted a survey and developed an environmental map identifying areas where they felt improvements could be made. They came up with several ideas and visions for their school. The vision they chose to develop was an edible garden. This choice filled teachers with joy and trepidation, as some were more familiar with the pleasures of edible gardening than others!

In Term 1, 2002, students began planning their action towards establishing an edible garden using action planners as outlined in the appendix of the Guidelines (Ministry of Education, 1999). The students visited other local edible gardens, including the Dunedin Community gardens. The students drew on the expertise of local gardening experts, and thus started forming wider partnerships with the community. They learned about edible plants, applied for funding, and designed and chose the best location for the garden. Learning was tied into the curriculum, through technology, science, art and English. With help from parents, whanau and caregivers, the students constructed a no-dig mulch garden just before the end of Term 1.

Everyone was encouraged to contribute somehow, be it to loan a gardening tool, collect compost or physically construct the garden. Small though it was at that time, the garden enabled students to take some personal and social responsibility for action, and to begin to understand the other key concepts, as outlined in the Guidelines (Ministry of Education, 1999), of interdependence, sustainability and biodiversity. During the latter part of 2002, a garden club was established with the assistance of parents. Each week 2 different students from each class took turns to work in the garden, weeding, planting, harvesting or collecting seed. Art works were created by the students for the garden as well.

The EfS work at Waitati School was beginning to draw attention nationally during 2002, and during that year, there were visits from Heidi Mardon, who is now the Director of the Enviroschools Foundation, and also Dr. Barry Law, currently the National Coordinator for EfS

In 2003, Waitati School officially became one of two model Enviroschools in Otago. This meant teachers had the support of an Enviroschools facilitator to assist us with their EfS, as well as the Enviroschools resource kit. It also meant that the school became a model for others wanting to enhance their EfS programmes with visits from Glenorchy School (the other official Otago Enviroschool at that time) and Karitane Schools. This was most beneficial for the visiting students and their teachers, as well as for the hosts.

In term 1 of 2003, the students continued to work in whanau groups to celebrate their achievements in EfS, and to look forward to other visions. Goals for the edible garden at that time included
• To establish a school worm farm
• To construct compost bins near the garden
• To extend the edible garden, building on the students’ designs
• To include a ‘cultural garden’ reflecting the diversity of people in our school community
• To extend the path through the edible garden
The garden at Waitati School now illustrates just how many of these have been achieved. A garden facilitator was employed at this time with support from theDunedin Environment Centre and the schools’ Board of Trustees.

Early in term 2, the students decided that as well as continuing work on their edible garden they would like to undertake some further action projects. Students referred back to their visions for the school and came up with all sorts of ideas. The envirogroup narrowed down these to some realistic options that everyone in the school could be involved in, and then the whanau groups made some decisions. A matrix format was utilised by the students to help with their decision making. Developing the swamp area was the project most students agreed upon.

The goals for the ‘swamp area’ at the time were
• For the students to have the swamp area as the basis of their curriculum learning in term 3, 2003
• For the students to design and plant out our swamp with appropriate natives
• For the students to use this project to enter the YHA conservationist awards
Learning, planting natives and hut development were amongst the activities that came out of this project.

Also during 2003, Waitati School established an envirogroup, which met regularly to discuss future directions of EfS at Waitati School. This was made up of students, teachers, community members and the Enviroschools facilitator. The group presented ideas and progress at the school concert and local fair, and contributed to the school newsletter.

Waitati School’s Environmental Care Code was also developed this year, as well. During term 2 the students, led by the envirogroup, developed a code to expand on what ‘I care about my environment’, from the school code meant. This was sent home to parents for them to comment on, and copies went to the Board of Trustees for consultation. After the code was finalised it was displayed in all rooms of the school. Teachers regularly referred to it, and as the students had developed it, they had strong buy in.

Funding from ACI Glass (now O-I Glass) and WWF of $2000 and $1000 respectively was secured during the end of 2003, Students had worked with teachers and the Enviroschools facilitator to apply for this funding.

Summary of the Waitati Enviroschool journey, 2000-2003.


Learning about the Waitati Energy Project, 2009

Organised by the Waitati Energy Project, students from Waitati and Warrington Schools learn about weather and the community renewable generation project from University of Otago geography student Seth Gorrie at the site of one of Geography 380's Automatic Weather Stations on the 16th of October, 2009. Waitati and Warrington school pupils were shown a range of weather measuring devices and got to do some 'hands on' testing of wind speed and much more.


Who is Who at Waitati Enviroschool?

Jenny Upton, longtime Waitati resident (no longer 'in' Waitati, but very nearby in an off-the-grid house with partner Murray Grimwood) is the Enviroschool Liaison assigned to Waitati School.

Jinty MacTavish, longtime Waitati friend and youthful dynamo is the new (2010) Assistant Regional Co-ordinator for Otago.

Heidi Heyward is the dynamic principal of Waitati School, and teaches Years 5 - 8.

Helen Shaw keeps the school in order from the School office and assists teaching of Years 0 - 2.

Sue Roberts-Blyth is principal-relief teacher for Years 5 - 8.

Jayne Fitzgerald teaches Years 3 - 4.

Sarah Wilson teaches Years 0 - 2

The Waitati Energy Project supports Waitati Enviroschool

The Waitati Edible Gardeners support Waitati Enviroschool





These are the areas Waitati Enviroschool is focussig on in 2010:




Waitati School Office: 03 4822888

Waitati School Website: http://www.waitati.school.nz/

The official NZ Enviroschools site