Rākau | Trees in our Learning Spaces

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, as we start to get more rain and the soil holds more water. There are lots of great events and opportunities to plant trees during Terms Two and Three

Events: Celebrate and Plant Trees


Week 4: Outdoor Classroom Day Thursday 23 May

Week 6: World Environment Day and Arbor Day Wednesday 5 June 

Week 8 : Winter Solstice Friday 21 June

Week 9: Matariki public holiday Friday 28 June


August (dates TBC) Conservation Week 

All of these events offer a chance to engage with your wider community, either by attending a planting day or celebration run by a local group, or by inviting whānau to come into your school grounds and take part in learning about and caring for trees.

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. The main image above shows tamariki from Hastings Central School with some of the trees for their outdoor classroom.

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

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.

Science Learning Hub have created a bilingual learning unit: Ngā rākau | Trees

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.

He Kākano community nursery have partnered with Whitebait Connection and Te Aho Tū Roa to produce a guide for how to set up a native plant nursery, aimed at schools and communities. They also have guides for seed collection, in both te reo Māori and English.

Wellington City Council have produced a fun video about how to plant like a ninja, to make sure your trees have the best start.