Education & Community Outreach

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.

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


Community outreach and education Wanaka

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

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

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 Mountainside Educare are learning about how our drain systems work, and why polluted stormwater causes problems for our lakes and rivers. They also helped attach the first carvings of freshwater species to the drains on their street to help remind us all to ONLY DRAIN RAIN.

Read more about the project here.

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.

WAI Wānaka workshops

WAO Summit Food & Fibre events

The Wao Summit is designed to accelerate our community towards a zero carbon future with a series of events highlighting the efforts of many local business and groups.

WAI Wānaka’s Food & Fibre programme delivers everything from practical workshops for monitoring on-farm biodiversity, speaker events covering the latest in science, practice change and consumer demand, to a farm tour visiting local properties, meeting the farmers and hearing firsthand how they are creating positive environmental outcomes.

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 and facilitated other events like a BioBlitz and OUR PLACE – a shared space with other community organisations for interactive and fun learning to show how land, water, flora, fauna, climate, and us humans, are all connected.

Fid out more about Community Collaboration 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

You can find other learning resources and interesting links here.


Projects & Topics of Interest


News & Updates

  • The more we know, the better we do!
    E mao ana ki ua, e ua ana ki mao.It is fine until it rains, it rains until it’s fine. Welcome to WAI Wānaka’s… Read more
  • Science Blog – future research
    Kia ora kotou, Time for a further update on research in the Upper Clutha. Previous science blogs have covered historic and current… Read more
  • Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao
    WAI Wānaka has been working with the Upper Clutha community since 2016 to protect and enhance ecosystem health and community wellbeing across… Read more
  • Better together
    By working together, we empower communities to understand their water, their environment, and their impact. The first official Matariki public holiday has brought… Read more

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