Lockdown learning & biodiversity

Community Wellbeing


Healthy Ecosystems

Jobs For Nature

Risks to our Catchment

Another four days and we’ll drop an alert level everywhere south of Auckland. We hope you are all coping ok and are gentle on yourselves as well as getting to enjoy some daily exercise in our gorgeous backyard (…if not the snowy kind). It seems many gardens are going to be ready well in time for spring planting this year!

The wellbeing of our community depends on many things, but it is intricately linked to the health of our ecosystems, which is why it takes all of us to work together and look after this special place.

Fun times at the Wānaka Matariki celebration – photo by Deanne Gerlach

Lockdown and biodiversity at WAI Wānaka

For some of us here at WAI it’s been business as usual – except from home with a guest appearance of the old zoom from back in 2020. The field team however, has been busy upgrading their knowledge on biodiversity monitoring, with some fabulous afternoon quizzes thrown in.

Home learning this week included bird identification and 5 minute bird counts, visual soil assessments, aquatic biodiversity monitoring and native flora identification. Please get in touch if you have an interest in any of the subjects and we’ll try to upgrade the resources for public consumption. Also check out the Indigenous Biodiversity Workshop coming up as part of the Wao Summit 2021 (More info below.)

Connection through learning

Research shows that community wellbeing is closely linked to the natural environment. Being connected to nature enhances our emotional, physical and mental health, and reduces feelings of social isolation.

What better way to foster connection with the natural environment than at an early age and during school time? WAI was delighted to be successful with funding from ORC’s ECOFund to support our education programme. We’ve developed a pilot with local schools, connecting the classroom with environmental issues and solutions on farms in the Upper Clutha Catchment.

Regenerative Agriculture

Our pilot is called EMBRACING TE TAIAO. It explores the environment and rural land use, particularly around water quality and water use, biodiversity, land use change, biosecurity, climate change and community collaboration.

The programme kicked off with the first modules on WHENUA – LAND and will bring in our other modules as the students progress. For more information, you can contact Jose at jose@waiwanaka.nz


Juvenile kea – photo by Cathy Patoine, WAI Wānaka

Fun things to do at home

Looking for some fun activities to do at home with the kids or flatmates this lockdown? Here are some great outdoor learning resources for you:


  • Get to know 10 Common NZ Forest Birds with this amazing interactive resource by the Department of Conservation (includes bird calls)



  • If you’re lucky enough to be using the lockdown time for gardening – get inspired to participate in the great kiwi earthworm survey
  • Here’s a fun one for the kids! “Soil your undies” is all about soil health and a bit of fun learning at the same time


Wao Summit 2021

Are you passionate about sustainability? Do you want to make a difference? We do too!

Which is why we’re getting behind the Wao Summit 2021 – a six-day event aimed at mainstreaming sustainability and fostering diversity not only here in the Southern Lakes – but across the entire country.

We need to act now to decarbonise our economy, restore and increase biodiversity and ensure we look after the wellbeing of our communities along the way. Simply put – our planet is dying and we need to change, like, yesterday.

Including a special Food & Fibre Pass which gives you access to all Food & Fibre related events during the week of the Wao Summit at a discounted rate

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