Education Programme

Education is at the heart of local action

Our education and outreach programmes are building a passionate community of water advocates with the skills and knowledge to be the current and future voices for healthy water.

We aim to educate and raise awareness by reaching deep into what drives our values and attitudes towards water, broadening participation and empowering landowners, businesses, residents, visitors and communities to care for their freshwater environment.

Last year we kicked off our education programme in earnest, developing strategies for schools, tertiary institutions, workplaces and in the community.


Our Drains are Streams

DID YOU KNOW? Whatever goes down our drains, flows untreated into our lakes and rivers via a complex system of underground ‘streams’.

As part of ‘Embracing te Taiao – In our Neighbourhood’, the tamariki from multiple schools and education centres around Wānaka are learning about our drain systems, and why polluted stormwater causes problems for our lakes and rivers. The carvings of freshwater species on the drains help remind us all to ONLY DRAIN RAIN.

Read more about the project here.
‘Adopt a Drain’ in your neighbourhood.
Download the Adopt a Drain brochure.

Embracing Te Taiao – On the Farm

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 whenua (land), tangata (people), wai māori (freshwater) and āngi (air). This programme connects the classroom with environmental issues and solutions on farms in the Upper Clutha catchment.

Find updates here.

Funded by Otago Regional Council’s ECO Fund

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Working with Mt Aspiring College and community partners, this initiative assesses whether the Wānaka lakefront development project meets its goals to ‘restore and develop ecology through ecological enhancements’ and to ‘improve land use within the lakefront’ by measuring the impact of the development on biodiversity, water quality and community values.

Read about our progress here.

Funded by Otago Museum’s Participatory Science Programme

WAI Wānaka Internships


WAI Wānaka is excited to be able to provide science-led internship placements for tertiary students.

Last summer we were joined by lovely Aaliyah Pakau-Timoti who is studying for a Bachelor of Animal Science at Massey University in Palmerston North. She was using new eDNA technology to understand where tuna (NZ freshwater eels) are located in the Upper Clutha Basin. Read more about her work here.

In summer 2020/21 we had two students – Nadia and Lily – working on biodiversity monitoring and visual soil assessments.

kids with ephemeral sculptures with a message

WAO Summit

The annual WAO Summit is designed to accelerate our community towards a zero carbon future.

Last year WAI Wānaka’s contribution to the week long summit was engaging with local students and the wider community as part of the schools programme and the Sustainable Communities Tour.

Click here to see WAI Wānaka’s events at the 2023 WAO Summit in October. This year there are on-farm biodiversity events as well as a talk on microplastics in our lakes linked to our project: A Teeny Tiny Truth.

Community Collaboration

Community collaboration is an important part of WAI Wānaka’s education programme.

WAI has run interactive stalls at Kahu Youth’s wonderful annual Matariki celebration, facilitated other events like a BioBlitz and OUR PLACE – a shared space with other community organisations for interactive and fun learning. As well as collaborating with local education providers under the umbrella of “Experiencing Our Place”.

Click here to view the Wānaka Environmental Education Blue-Sky Report 2023.

Find out more about other Community Collaboration projects here.


Education Pilot Programme: Embracing te Taiao – On the Farm

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 Quantity
Water Quantity
Water Quality
Collaboration, Community and Catchments

Other resources and links

  • Click here to view the Wānaka Environmental Education Blue-Sky Report 2023.
  • You can find other learning resources and interesting links here.


Projects & Topics of Interest


Newsletters & Updates

  • November Newsletter
    Did you hear the news about the Australasian crested grebe / kāmana becoming New Zealand’s ‘Bird of the Century’? Talk about going… Read more
  • Adopt a Drain – Spring
    It’s time for our ‘Adopt a Drain’ newsletter – spring edition! As we gear up for the warmer days ahead, it’s time… Read more
  • Sampling for microplastics with the Wānaka community
    A little bit of rain, a little bit of sunshine and a whole lot of sampling for microplastics! We had so much… Read more
  • October Newsletter
    Spring is in the air, and so is our October newsletter  – your portal to upcoming events, initiatives, and feel-good community news. Let’s dive into it,… Read more

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