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.


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.
‘Adopt a Drain’ in your neighbourhood.

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 – School Programme

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

This 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. All three events were related to water quality and ecosystem health in the Upper Clutha Basin.

In the past years, WAI Wānaka’s Food & Fibre programme delivered practical workshops, speaker events and a farm tour.

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

  • Adopt a Drain
    Welcome to the ‘Adopt a Drain’ community! We are thrilled to share the first edition of our seasonal ‘Adopt a Drain’ newsletter… Read more
  • Take action this Autumn
    We have had a busy summer preparing lots of opportunities for you to make a difference in your backyard. Check out the list… Read more
  • Growing together
    Let’s celebrate our community planting over 45,000 native trees across the Upper Clutha Catchment over the last five years. The Wānaka Water… Read more
  • WAI in the community
    It’s been a difficult time for many recently – with droughts affecting our region whilst floods have devastated communities in the north.  A… Read more

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