Rākau | Trees in our Learning Spaces

Trees can teach us how to be good ancestors.

Growing, planting and caring for trees is a relationship that requires patience, care and commitment, with many rewards along the way. We can guide ākonga to connect with and care for trees by choosing a starting point related to the seasons: collecting seeds, growing seedlings, planting, caring and eventually experiencing the flowers, fruit, shade, branches to climb and other benefits they provide us.

Late autumn and winter are the best seasons to plant trees, so over the hotter months you could focus on learning about trees that grow in your local area, looking for flowers and seeds and growing your own plants from seeds or leaf litter. You could also visit community planting sites and offer to care for the trees by watering and clearing weeds from around them.

Inspiring Stories

Hastings Central School has a shade house where ākonga grow a range of seedlings which are then gifted to projects in the community. They have also used trees as a key part of their outdoor classroom design, planting mānatu (ribbonwood) and nīkau to provide shade.

Te Kākano nursery in Wānaka has worked in collaboration with Whakatipu Reforestation Trust to develop an education programme that supports ākonga to learn about, grow and care for native plants, from early childhood through to their primary and secondary years.

These projects are examples of how outside providers and the wider community can help support kaiako with relevant and local learning.

Visit our Providers page to search by region and find people and groups near you who can provide support.

Getting Started: Helpful Resources

Restoration Through the Seasons includes a poster and inquiry plan from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that can help guide you towards activities that work best each term.

Kids Greening Taupō have an online nature classroom about Tipu | Plants of Aotearoa that includes great activities and information about trees and other plants.

Order a copy of Tree Snap or Taukapu Rākau from Trees That Count and have fun learning the names and benefits of some of our common native trees.

Get to Know a Tree with this short nature connection activity from DOC.

If you're part of the Enviroschools programme you should check out the Living Landscapes resources.

Create a Ngahere | Forest in your School

You might already have plans to start a ngahere in your school or kura grounds, or maybe you're involved with a community planting project. Winter is the main season for planting, so keep an eye out for community planting events in your area during Terms 2 and 3.

Trees That Count have a range of videos and advice for schools about how to plan and coordinate planting days. Remember to check in with your local community and environmental education providers to get support with this process.

Read this article from the Education Gazette about schools who are celebrating Matariki by planting native trees in their school grounds.