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Conservation Week | Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa

Conservation Week encourages New Zealanders to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy a fresh perspective on the unique spaces and wildlife of Aotearoa. 

Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata – when the land is well, the people are well.

About Conservation Week

Cathedral Cove.

Conservation Week is an annual event run by the Department of Conservation (DOC). 

Conservation Week was originally launched in 1969 by the New Zealand Scout Association. It aimed to promote greater interest in the environment and encourage people to take practical actions to look after it. 

The Department of Conservation took over the Conservation Week duties when it was formed in 1987, and has since worked with other groups, businesses, councils, and agencies to celebrate this special national event.

Curriculum connections

NZC Curriculum icon.

Conservation Week supports students to develop understandings around the theme of sustainability, which is integral to the visionprinciples, and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Conservation Week also encourages students to explore the living world strand of the science curriculum, the concepts of place and environment in the social sciences curriculum, and values such as community and participation, and care for the environment. 

How can you get involved?


Get out in the great outdoors
Spend time outside in nature with your school community. You could visit a local park, beach, reserve, or bush area. Invite parents and whānau to join you to deepen your community connections. 

Run a conservation activity at school
Work with your students to organise an initiative to help take care of your local environment. You could take part in a beach or park clean-up, improve your recycling systems at your school, or plant trees in your local area. Take a look at the Department of Conservation website for ideas. 

Explore kaitiakitanga
This section of Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand has links and information about kaitiakitanga, a way of managing the environment, based on the traditional Māori worldview. It explores the concepts of guardianship, protection, preservation, and sheltering. The page can be viewed in English or te reo Māori. You could read the article Kaitiaki of the Stream with your students which is based on the work of Pātaka Moore of Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa in Ōtaki. In a talk to local students, he explains the history and significance of the Mangapōuri Stream. He also discusses how the stream, which is now unhealthy, might be restored. Encourage your students to consider how they can take on the role of kaitiaki for their local environment.

Research environment issues and take action 
Encourage your students to research environmental issues of local, national, and global importance. Support students in the research process and help them to identify ways that they can take social action. They might choose to raise greater awareness of the issues through an advertising campaign or carry out fundraising for an environmental cause.  A project could be developed in your area, in conjunction with local iwi, that encourages the community to explore and care for the conservation issues that are closest to home. This resource illustrates how a Connected article could provide a model for students to engage with science in the context of a real life issue.

Make your school a nicer place 
Consider ways that you can make the physical environment of your school a more attractive and environmentally friendly place to be. Students might choose to plant a school vegetable garden, build bird feeders or bug motels, create garden art, or install additional rubbish bins to keep the grounds tidy. The Enviroschools foundation supports an action-based approach to education through which children and young people plan, design, and implement sustainable projects, and become catalysts for change in their families, whānau, and the wider community.

Instructional series 

Search the Instructional Series on Tāhūrangi for journal stories with a conservation theme. Texts that would work well to support this learning are:

Getting Closer, School Journal Level 2 November 2016
This article, written from the perspective of a wildlife photographer, will appeal to and engage young readers. The subject matter for his camera – tomtits in the Ōrokonui Ecosanctuary – is central to the information about photography.

Huia resource image.

Huia, School Journal Level 3 November 2020
This item complements the article about coprolites in the same Journal, providing a more emotive response to the idea that extinction is permanent – and often caused by the actions of people. The poem might be called a mōteatea – a lament.

Bird of the Year resource image.

Bird of the Year, Junior Journal 59, Level 2, 2019
In this interview, Megan Hubscher of Forest & Bird talks to Iona McNaughton about the Bird of the Year competition – why it started and how it helps keep New Zealand native birds safe. 

Bringing back the Birdsong, Connected, Level 2, 2017
For years, introduced predators have been killing birds along the Kepler Track in Fiordland. Students in the Kids Restore the Kepler project are working with the Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Conservation Trust to reduce the number of predators living in the area. Their mission: to bring birdsong back to the Kepler.

Designed for Good, School Journal, Level 3, 2017
The New Zealand environment has been badly affected by introduced pests such as rats, stoats, and possums. Designed for Good follows the process of developing an effective and humane trap to reduce these pest populations. 

Sea Science: Connected 2019 Level 2 – Wild Discoveries
This article describes a citizen science project carried out by three schools on Aotea Great Barrier Island. Concerned by the amount of marine debris washing up on their beaches, the students partnered with scientists from the University of Auckland to investigate what was happening and to take action to bring about change.

Kaupapa Kerurū, School Journal Level 3, June 2012
Although the kererū is a fairly common bird, its numbers are actually declining. The article describes an initiative by Ngāi Tahu that is helping the threatened kererū population on Banks Peninsula. 

Our Gifted Garden by Bernadette Wilson, Junior Journal 49, Level 2, 2014
This article recounts how students from Raumati South School, an Enviroschool, entered an environmentally sustainable garden in the Ellerslie International Flower Show in Christchurch and won two prizes!

Hoiho, Junior Journal 24, Level 2, January 2011 

Hoiho (a yellow-eyed penguin) is being pursued by a seal, and in this dramatic poem, the writer urges Hoiho to move fast and escape. Neither creature can move as well on land as they can in the water, and the descriptive, dramatic language, with frequent repetition of similar sounds, conveys a vivid image of the desperate “Wibble wobble, flip flop” pursuit. This example of a native bird in danger provides a thematic link to “Catching Mustelids” in the same Journal. 

Catching Mustelids, Junior Journal 43, Level 2, 2011

This report, told from the perspective of a young girl, describes how and why her grandad catches mustelids (ferrets, stoats, and weasels). The theme of predators continues in the poem “ Hoiho” in the same Journal, providing an opportunity for students to integrate ideas from both texts. A third text in this Journal, “A New Home for Mokomoko”, continues the theme of protection of native wildlife.

Useful resources

Conservation Week
The official Department of Conservation website for Conservation Week offers information, resources, and Conservation Week events to support your involvement.

Education for sustainability
This resource helps teachers to engage students in learning about sustainability and to encourage them to act sustainably and contribute to New Zealand’s well-being. It makes connections between the learning areas, vision, principles, values, and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Enviroschools Foundation
The Enviroschools Foundation supports an action-based approach to education through which children and young people plan, design, and implement sustainable projects, and become catalysts for change in their families, whānau, and the wider community.

LEARNZ is a free online programme for students at curriculum levels 2–8, targeting science, geography, social studies, arts and technology. See the site for current virtual field trips and a list of field trips for the coming year. Each field trip website has background resources, student activities, teacher support, and curriculum ideas to prepare students for a 3–4 day interactive experience.

Meet the Locals
This TVNZ series follows different local conservation issues and projects and is available to watch on YouTube.

Understanding kaitiakitanga – Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
This section of Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand has links and information about kaitiakitanga, a way of managing the environment, based on the traditional Māori world view. It explores the concepts of guardianship, protection, preservation, and sheltering. The page can be viewed in English or te reo Māori.

Caring for the environment Te tiaki i te taiao
Te ao kori (the world of movement) is a Māori celebration of life through movement and its many expressions, and is part of the health and physical education learning area. In this series of lesson plans, the natural environment is explored through a Māori perspective, using the framework of te ao kori.

Figure It Out – Sustainability
This Level 3 book from the Figure It Out series uses sustainability as a context for learning in science and mathematics and statistics.

In this primary level unit with an education for enterprise theme, students can explore how human actions can have both a positive and negative impact on the natural environment. They take a "walk and talk" tour in their local community.

School stories 

Find out how schools are designing their curriculum to include connections to sustainability.

Oakura School – Homes for penguins
Oakura Community and the Department of Conservation (DOC) needed some assistance with a penguin project. So they went to the obvious place for help and approached the children at Oakura School.

Menzies College – Localised learning at Mimihau Stream
Year 12 students from Menzies College have been catching and tagging trout in Mimihau Stream, sharing their findings with Fish and Game New Zealand. By gaining a more accurate picture of life in this waterway, students have challenged the assertion that Mimihau Stream is dead.

Updated on: 14 Jan 2022