A focus on the future, including sustainability, is a core principle of the New Zealand curriculum across all levels of education.
Responding to this need, the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre (OOLC) at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) provides a unique space for students to engage in learning in the context of nature. It is underpinned by te ao Māori principles, promoting nature as a context for learning across all areas of the curriculum for all levels from early childhood to postgraduate education.
The OOLC project is an innovative collaboration between EIT, Ngāti Pārau the local manu whenua hapū, central and local government agencies (Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation, HBRC and local environmental groups that include Predator Free Hawke’s Bay). It is immersive learning in the nature space at the EIT campus, which includes a refurbished log cabin featuring recycled materials, an eco-toilet and outdoor shelter.
Educational resources linked to the curriculum have been developed and are available free online to download (here). This is a unique project and will lead the way to encourage and support learning in an outdoors context, enabling future generations of New Zealanders to appreciate the significance of their actions. By connecting young people with the environment at an early age, we can shape a pro-environmental mindset throughout their lifetime.