TREEmendous Start to 2020 for Four Kiwi Schools

21 November 2019

The 2020 school year is already off to a TREEmendous start for four Kiwi Schools, who will be getting new outdoor learning spaces in the new year.

TREEmendous – a joint initiative between Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation have selected another four schools to receive $10,000 towards bringing their outdoor learning dreams to life.

Burnside Primary School (Christchurch), Hobsonville Point Primary School (Auckland), Roslyn School (Palmerston North) and Stanhope Road School (Auckland) will transform an unused area of their school grounds into an outdoor learning area through the planting of native trees and shrubs. Six finalists also received $500 towards their projects.

The TREEmendous team will help each school develop an area that encourages a deeper connection with nature and the chance to learn first-hand about the environment in an outdoor setting.

Burnside Primary School plans to transform an unused area next to its field by planting hundreds of native trees, as well as adding seating, worm farms, native edible plants and further developing its existing butterfly garden.
Principal Matt Bateman says Burnside Primary aims to create students that are successful in a changing world with the challenges that they will face with climate change.

“Students need to respect their environment and be the instruments for change. To do this, they need a place where they feel connected with the environment, which is why it is so important to have outdoor learning spaces in schools,” he says.

Hobsonville Point Primary School is going to transform the 1000m2 area between its car park and vegetable garden by creating bee, gecko and weta habitats. It will also plant an area with native herbs and plants like kawa kawa and koromiko that can be used for rongoā (traditional Māori healing).

Principal, Daniel Birch, says its vision is to create a stimulating and inclusive learning environment.

“An outdoor learning space will let our students engage with nature and make their learning more authentic. We will teach them about trees, birds and insects and how to look after them, as well as using the space for reflection and looking after our mental and physical wellbeing,” he says.

Roslyn School will transform a large, unused area that is currently out of bounds into an interactive outdoor learning space, with a focus on creating a native bush area with indigenous plants that support wellness through rongoā.

Deputy Principal, Maryanne Ferris, says that the school currently lacks an outdoor space that fosters connection to the natural environment.

“It is really exciting to visualise the possibilities for learning from creating a ngahere (bush) and exploring traditional Māori medicine,” she says.

Stanhope Road School will focus on creating habitats and food for native birds, lizards and insects as well as planting native plants, a wildflower meadow, fruit trees and raised vegetable gardens.

Zane Wilson, Principal, says being able to take student learning outside of the traditional classroom is exciting.

“Sustainability is a key focus at our school, and we are looking forward to seeing our students put their knowledge into practice by creating a TREEmendous outdoor learning area where they can literally get their hands dirty,” he says.

The TREEmendous team will visit all four schools in 2020 to create amazing outdoor classrooms with help from students, families, school staff, local Mazda dealership staff, Mazda Foundation Trustees and Project Crimson staff.

“Every year I am blown away by the passion both students and teachers have for learning about and caring for the environment and the creativity of their plans" says David Hodge, Managing Director of Mazda New Zealand and Chairman of the Mazda Foundation.

"It’s encouraging to know that our planet is in good hands with the next generation, and we can’t wait to visit these four schools and get planting," he says.

Joris de Bres, Project Crimson Trust Chair, said it’s encouraging to see young people so passionate in learning about and preserving their natural environment.

“We are very excited and looking forward to next year’s events and can’t wait to meet all the schools and students and help them make their outdoor classroom dreams a reality,” he says.

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