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Education for sustainability

Education for sustainability

Sustainability is a critical issue for New Zealand – environmentally, economically, culturally, politically, and socially. We need to learn how to live smarter to reduce our impact on the environment for future generations.


Climate Change Learning Programme – Teacher Resource.

Climate Change Learning Programme – Teacher Resource (updated July 2020)
This level 4 programme aims to: increase awareness of climate change and explain the role science plays in understanding it; understand both the response to and impacts of climate change – globally, nationally and locally; explore and act on opportunities to contribute to reducing and adapting to the impact of climate change on everyday life.

PDF icon. Climate Change Learning Programme – Teacher Resource (PDF, 7 MB)

Climate Change Learning Programme – Wellbeing Guide.

Climate Change Learning Programme – Wellbeing Guide
The Climate Change Wellbeing Guide has been developed to provide teachers with background information and tailored resources to help them navigate the delivery of climate change scientific content, whilst maintaining the wellbeing/hauora of students.

PDF icon. Climate Change Learning Programme – Wellbeing Guide (PDF, 762 KB)

Putātara – a call to action
Incorporating sustainability and global citizenship across the curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. This resource supports schools and teachers to develop learning opportunities that are place-based, inquiry-led, and focused on participation for change. Read more in About this resource.

Our atmosphere and climate 2020 resources
The Science Hub, in collaboration with the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, have developed a large suite of teaching and learning resources around the Our Atmosphere and Climate 2020 report. Learn about data, infographics, greenhouse gas emissions, weather & climate, and evidence of climate change in New Zealand – with current and robust data.


Action planner

This tool helps students map the process of action and plan their learning. It is suitable for many different contexts.

Word icon. Action planner (Word, 863 KB)

Pressure on the Earth

In this learning activity students use a model to develop an understanding of how their actions and behaviours impact on the Earth.

Word icon. Pressure on the Earth (Word, 72 KB)

Taonga Aotearoa

An experiential learning activity that helps students make connections with each other, where they are now, where they come from, and what is important to them.

Word icon. Taonga Aotearoa (Word, 298 KB)

Aspects of sustainability

This graphic organiser supports learners to develop a deeper understanding of the future focus theme of sustainability.

Word icon. Aspects of Sustainability (Word, 162 KB)

Jigsaw – cooperative learning

An activity to get students working together and developing personal responsibility.

Word icon. Jigsaw - cooperative learning (Word, 84 KB)


New Zealand Government sites

Explore sustainability-related initiatives and programmes from across a range of Government departments.

Biodiversity information online – BIO

The Biodiversity website is sponsored by the four central government agencies that have a statutory role in managing and conserving New Zealand’s unique biodiversity. It aims to bring together existing resources, which are often scattered across many environmental websites and publications, so that people working in the biodiversity field can better access this knowledge.

Department of Conservation – Conservation education

The Department of Conservation provides information and resources to support conservation education programmes in schools, including field trips and activities.


This site provides information about how to save energy and money in your home, on the road, and at work.

Ministry for the Environment

On this website you can find out about issues that affect the environment, environmental laws and treaties, and the state of the environment. You can also find information about the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), on what you can do for the environment, and MfE publications.

Ministry of Transport

The Ministry of Transport’s Environment group has principal responsibility to provide leadership in the management of the environmental and public health impacts of transport as part of the development of a sustainable transport system.

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA): Fuel economy label generator

This site provides information about how you can calculate your transport costs, save money, and care for the environment.

NIWA – Rangi, weather and climate lessons for teachers 
These lesson packages were co-developed between NIWA’s climate researchers and meteorologists, and teachers and students from a group of West Auckland intermediate schools. Rangi (meaning weather or sky in te reo Māori) is designed to offer intermediate age students an engaging and interactive way to learn about Aotearoa’s weather and climate, inspiring children to consider a future career in a STEM-related field. 

NIWA – National institute of water and atmospheric research initiatives for schools

NIWA is New Zealand's leading provider of atmospheric and aquatic science. The website includes research, educational material, publications, maps, FAQ, teachers' and students' sections, and links to the various NIWA national centres and information about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Christchurch City Council: Schools and sustainability

Information on significant sites of native plants and animals that need protection, what and where the ecological sites are, and what can be done to protect them.

Environment Canterbury education for sustainability

A variety of learning programmes and resources. The programmes are facilitated by trained teachers, and the resources aim to support teachers in developing new knowledge and ways of thinking to achieve a sustainable future.

Waikato Regional Council: Resources for teachers

Current information about the region’s natural resources and environmental issues.

Environment Southland: Environmental education

Various resources, links, and information on environmental education and the programmes for schools.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council: Schools

A range of education programmes, resources, activities, events, and teacher workshops.

Take action for water

An Education for Sustainability programme from the Wellington Regional Council helping year 4–8 students understand and care for fresh water in the Wellington region.

TravelWise – Thinking transport

A programme run by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority in partnership with Auckland Regional Council, Land Transport New Zealand, Ministry of Health, Roadsafe Auckland, and other Auckland city councils. TravelWise helps schools and communities to improve travel choices and make it safer and easier to consider travel options. The programme includes information on road safety, walking school buses, walking and cycling, and guidelines for schools and work places to implement safety programmes.

Travis Wetland

This Christchurch City Council resource looks at the environmental, development, and planning issues surrounding Travis Wetland in Christchurch.

Non-governmental organisations

These New Zealand based non-governmental organisations have strong links to education to sustainability.

Toimata Foundation

A charitable trust that provides support and strategic direction for a nationwide environmental education programme. The Foundation’s vision is to foster a generation of innovative and motivated young people who instinctively think and act sustainably. At a national level Toimata Foundation is principally funded through a contract with the Ministry for the Environment.

Royal Forest and Bird

Forest & Bird works to preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage and native species. They also co-ordinate hands-on restoration projects and educate people about environmental issues through their children’s club, Kiwi Conservation Club, publications, and public awareness campaigns.

Global Focus Aotearoa Schools Programme

Formerly known as the Global Education Centre, Global Focus Aotearoa provides resources and training for teachers, teacher trainees and students. Global Focus is a not-for-profit, non-government charitable trust, governed by a voluntary board of trustees. It is core-funded by NZAID Nga Tuputupu-mai-tawhiti, a semi-autonomous body of the New Zealand Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


LEARNZ virtual field trips have a common theme of sustainability. LEARNZ takes classes virtually to inaccessible, remote or prohibited places all over New Zealand and overseas where students can follow experts in the field and interact with them by posing questions in live audioconferences or on a web forum. Every field trip has its own curriculum-integrated web site with a teacher section and a student section, as well as a rich field trip area which includes videos, audio podcasts, photos, and diaries. LEARNZ has about a dozen new field trips every year and is free for New Zealand teachers and their students.

Sir Peter Blake Trust

The trust aims to help New Zealanders make a positive difference for the planet through activities that encourage environmental awareness and action. In partnerships with the Ministry of Education and NIWA it administers the Sir Peter Blake Environmental Educator Award, the Sea and Learn hands-on science shipboard education programme, and also supports young New Zealanders to attend the United Nations Environment Programme International Children's Conference on the Environment, which is held every two years.

Trade Aid

Trade Aid has developed social studies resources for schools on Environmental Justice. Two teaching units aimed at levels 1–5 of the social studies curriculum fit in with campaigns and activities that Trade Aid will be running in communities around New Zealand for 2008–09.

Untouched World™ Charitable Trust

The Untouched World™ Charitable Trust’s activity is centred on education, environmental, social, cultural, and community issues, providing young adults with a unique learning experience, developing life skills to maximise their potential and inspire them to lead the way in achieving a sustainable future.

WWF New Zealand Education

WWF-New Zealand promotes positive action to reduce the impacts of climate change; campaigns to stop dolphins and seabirds being caught by fishers; and educates the next generation about the importance of managing our precious environment more sustainably.

Themes and contexts

Explore a range of websites focusing on sustainability-related themes and contexts.

Climate change

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) promotes sustainable energy by changing the way New Zealanders think about, and use energy.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

Lessons from a Melting Icecap

Lessons from a Melting Icecap is a film designed to empower New Zealand secondary students to take action around climate change issues. The website provides a living hub for climate change related teaching resources (constantly being added to by teachers around the country) as well as information about how to obtain a copy of the film.

New Zealand’s climate change solutions

This site has information about the causes of, the evidence for, and the effects of, climate change. It describes the actions being taken to reduce emissions, and the work being done to help people prepare for, and adapt to, climate change.

New Zealand climate change

The Ministry for the Environment website explains what the government is doing in relation to developing policies and legislation, and providing information on climate change issues.

Other contexts and topics

Freshwater ecosystems

A look at the importance of rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and wetlands, and the plants and animals within these ecosystems.

Kākāpō recovery

Information about the kākāpō recovery programme in New Zealand.

Zealandia: Karori wildlife sanctuary

The Zealandia website offers a variety of programmes and supporting resource material designed to provide students and teachers with positive environmental experiences in, about, and for, the environment.

Kiwis for kiwi

Protecting kiwi and conserving their habitats.

Living Heritage

Living Heritage is an online bilingual initiative that enables New Zealand schools to develop and publish an online resource, based on a heritage treasure in their community. Schools are encouraged to identify a unique piece of heritage in their community, such as a tree, person, or event, to research and record. A Living Heritage web-based story incorporates the use of ICT across a range of curriculum areas, such as social sciences, technology, English, science, and education for sustainability.

Living Heritage – Bexley Wetlands heritage site

St James School in Christchurch has created a website about the uniqueness of the Bexley Wetlands, as part of the Living Heritage initiative.

Living Heritage – Tiritiri Matangi Island

Red Beach School in Auckland has created a website about Tiritiri Matangi Island, a special bird sanctuary with 60 of New Zealand's 200 takahe now living and breeding safely in a predator-free environment.


The Schoolgen programme has provided 42 schools across the North Island with a 2 kilowatt (kW) PV system. Through the programme website, you can see real time generation data from the solar panels at these schools, as well as access teaching and learning materials that explore electricity generation, climate change, and renewable energy, in particular, solar energy and photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Science Learning Hub

This website explores New Zealand's world-class research, and science and technology sectors and provides resources to support fresh thinking in science teaching and learning in our schools. Newly added contexts include nanoscience, enviro-imprints, and future fuels.

Up the creek

This bilingual interactive resource from the biodiversity website introduces concepts about biodiversity in waterways by focusing on the life cycle of whitebait. Intended for levels 3 and 4 of the New Zealand curriculum, the resource includes teachers' notes and ideas for class discussions and activities.

Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools

This is the online version of Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools, published in 1999 for the Ministry of Education by Learning Media Limited.

Updated on: 02 Jul 2020