Embracing Te Taiao – On the Farm

Aquatic Life
Community Catchment Plan
Functioning Ecosystems
Healthy Ecosystems
Jobs For Nature
Physical Habitat
Risks to our Catchment
Rural Development
Te Taiao
WAI Action Groups
Water Quality
Water Quantity

Education Pilot Programme

This programme connects the classroom with environmental issues and solutions on farms in the Upper Clutha catchment. WAI Wānaka has developed in-class and in-field activities for students to explore the connections between our environment and rural land use, focused on:
and ĀNGI – AIR
Students from Te Kura O Take Kārara learning about planting trees, healthy soil and water quality.

Funded by Otago Regional Council’s ECO Fund.

Feb – March 2024 

Thanks to funding we received from Our Land and Water (through our project Knowledge into Action for te Taiao), we were thrilled to bring Embracing te Taiao – on the Farm back for term one this year. During February and March we ventured out onto seven different farms alongside 190+ Year 8 students from Mount Aspiring College.  

A huge thanks goes out to everyone involved in this year’s on-farm field trips:

Rippon Vineyard, Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, Ben Elms/Dr.Compost, Mt. Grand Station, Lincoln University, Lake Hāwea Station, Black Peak Farming, Red Bridge Berries, Forest Lodge Orchard, Alphaburn Station and the Wānaka Catchment Group.

April 2023

With the on-farm field trips completed, it is time for the Year 8s of MAC to begin their own inquiry studies. Each student has chosen a specific area of interest for their study that focuses on land, freshwater or people. We are excited to see the innovative and thoughtful approaches that these young environmentalists will take for their case studies, and the positive outcomes they will create for their school and our community.

March 2023

Trading in textbooks for fresh air!

We were lucky with the weather and with the sun shining down, students were able to ditch the classroom and head out with us to farm. With a mix of chatting to the farmer and getting their hands dirty in native plant maintenance, water quality monitoring, composting and soil testing, grape tasting, trapping and more.

A huge thank you goes to Rippon vineyard, Lake McKay Station, Alpha Burn Station, Lake Hāwea Station & Criffel Station along with Te Kākano, the Wānaka Catchment Group and of course the WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature team who all contributed to these incredible field trips. 

February 2023

We were thrilled to hear that the Year 8s of Mount Aspiring College (Te Kura o Tititea) would be joining in on the fun this year and completing our Embracing Te Taiao – On the Farm programme during Term 1 of their studies. The programme kicked off in early February with 210 eager Year 8 students taking part in both in-class and in-field activities that focus on exploring rural land use in the Upper Clutha catchment, with three main areas of interest: whenua (land), tāngata (people) and wai māori (freshwater).

Year 8’s gathered in-class to hear from our ‘Farmer Panels’ – made up of local rural professionals and freshwater/wildlife experts. This first session was a perfect way to introduce students to rural land use in our area and the diverse challenges faced by each speaker. A big thank you to all of the speakers who volunteered their time to contribute to these farmer panel sessions.

November 2022

Children from Year 3 – 6 at Te Kura O Take Kārara descended on the hills of the Cardrona Valley on Monday 7th November 2022 as part of their inquiry investigation around What makes a good kaitiaki? 

Kids sending boat down a stream to learn about water flow

The sun was shining and they were able to take part in a range of activities thanks to the generosity of Sarah and Willie Scurr for inviting us all to visit the farm. Sarah set the scene and the WAI team helped students get into the action with some riparian planting and visual soil assessments including worm identification and Damian from Enviroschools ran a building activity where students built floating miniature rafts to explore ideas around water quality and water flow.

Primary school kids are learning all about bees.

In the afternoon three different focus groups split up and inquired about land, water and people across the valley. The land group inquired about bees with Jess at Branch Creek Station, and how they interact with the land. The water group looked at how water it is used in different ways on a farm and in a distillery and those interested in people chatted to Ewan from Cardrona Ski field to learn more about sustainability and all of the different considerations the Cardrona Ski field has to think about each day. Thanks to all those who took time to share knowledge with these students and further their inquiry.

June 2022

A first school field trip has finally happened with a group of students from Te Kura O Take Kārara. A visit to Kidds Bush and Hunter Valley Station where they were met by WAI Wānaka’s education team, Damian from Enviroschools and Hannah Carter from Hunter Valley Station. The kids got explore the bush, learn about water quality and learn about life on the farm before cars and how Hunter Valley Station as it is today used to be two different farms.

February 2022

With students unable to visit farms and schools closed to visitors due to Covid, the ‘Embracing te Taiao’ programme has gone online. To help with engagement in the classroom, we’ve set up a direct link with WAI Wānaka’s field crew through SLACK. The field crew post a quick video snippet of where they are and their mahi that day. That way, our rangatahi in the classroom are able to connect with actions on farms across the Upper Clutha from the school grounds. 

Once a week each of the seven year 8 classes at Mount Aspiring College (MAC) will be given the opportunity to reply and ask questions to the crew. The goal being to engage and inspire young, passionate minds in the region and prepare them for action on farm when Covid restrictions lift. Later in the term we will look to engage a panel of farmers to link in remotely for a Q&A session with these same classes.

We’re hoping that despite Covid restrictions students can still learn about the challenges and opportunities on-farm and all the amazing work our local farmers are doing as stewards of the land.

To learn more about the mahi the field crews are involved in, visit the Jobs for Nature | Mahi mō te Taiao page.

As part of this pilot programme, there are multiple classroom resources available for each of the four areas of interest. Please find the ones that are currently finished below.


Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative Agriculture – a farmer led solution
Habitat Restoration & Pest Control
Habitat Restoration, Pest & Predator Control
Changing landscapes
Changing Landscapes – Repo, Riparian Planting & Fish Passages


Water Quality
Water Quantity
Water Quantity


Collaboration, Community and Catchments

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