Makaraka School grows gold
Makaraka School has gained green-gold status with Enviroschools in recognition of the work students and staff have done bringing the environment into the classroom.
Enviroschools is a nationwide action-based education programme where students plan, design and get involved in their school's sustainability projects.
Children at the school turn the earth in the worm farm, are up and close with the vegetables and even had a part to play in the entire school going solar.
Some of the students were cycling on the school's pump track and thought they could do with some light. They made a plan with their teachers and set up a basic solar lamp. Then they asked the question, “why not power the school?”
The students and teachers got together and put a proposal to the board of trustees looking at different renewable energy sources. It was decided solar was the way to go.
“We're the best users of solar energy because we only use power during the day,” said school principal Hayden Swann.
Instead of paying for electricity the school makes money from power being put back into the grid — pocketing nearly $250 in November.
The solar system even has a phone app anyone can download.
“The app tells us ‘live' how much power we are generating, how much money we are saving, how much carbon that is not going into the atmosphere, how many kilometres that equates to in-vehicle travel and how many trees it equates to,” said Mr Swann.
The solar panels cost $30,000 and were funded by the Ministry of Education.
As well as their solar system, the school has just put up a sign on their State Highway 2 boundary asking people not to litter, after classroom Tangaroa noticed a lot of rubbish outside their school.
The class mapped out how the trash was heading to the sea through the waterways and thought something needed to be done.
They teamed up with the Gisborne District Council who paid for the signage bringing the community's attention to the problem.
In the Enviroschool programme's last census, over 1100 schools representing 152,000 children and young people were actively participating as well as 15,700 school and centre staff.
As part of the Enviroschools programme tamariki connect with and explore the environment, then plan, design and take action in their local places, while increasing their knowledge and experience of Maori perspectives.
The teachers now incorporate local stories into the classroom.
“Our local curriculum is based around the Tairawhiti stories which tell the history of the region and tipuna or ancestors who have done incredible deeds. This promotes meaningful, authentic and localised experiences and results in students' engagement and success,” said Mr Swann.
“These local stories come from Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa who provide the stories, bound in illustrated books in English and te reo Maori.
“Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa have also been working with our staff helping us to know the history of our area and how the names of rivers, marae and beaches were given.
“Staff have been learning their own pepeha, or short speech, describing they are from, their mountain, river, and the place they call home.”
With the environment woven tightly into the children's daily life they have brought those actions back into their homes.
Bella Campbell said her favourite part about the programme was stopping trash getting in the waterways and her family is involved too.
“We go on rubbish pickups and we pick stuff out of the creek.”
Liam Spence said his family had made changes at home because of the things they did at school.
“At my house we're getting a herb garden.”