For 20 years, students at Hukanui Primary School have been learning and taking action to improve the environment.
This Friday they’ll be celebrating the milestone, with a special event at the school which will be attended by staff and councillors from Waikato regional and Hamilton city councils.
The school was a pilot for the Enviroschools programme in 1998 – first launched by Waikato Regional Council with Hamilton City Council. Enviroschools has since rolled out nationwide and has grown to support nearly 1200 schools. The continued growth and vision of Enviroschools is supported nationally by Toimata Foundation.
Hukanui achieved Green-Gold status in 2007, the highest level a school can achieve and a reflection of its commitment to learning and action for sustainability.
The student responsibilities have grown over the years, developing from garden, waste, water, energy and biodiversity projects to ‘integrated enquiry’. Examples include the development of the gully and growing their own natives with the community in 2002, resulting in the first tūī being spotted in 2009. Their insect and plant restoration work has continued growing the biodiversity.
With staff, the students were integral in the development of the school grounds and buildings, including the award winning ‘Living Room’ opened in 2009.
Hukanui has a significant focus on growing, harvesting and cooking food from its backyard garden. The purpose-built Living Room is a fantastic focus for sustainability education at the school, but it was not designed with cooking in mind.
Over the past three years, the school has worked with the students to design and fund a kitchen extension to the Living Room, which will better meet the needs of children and their learning.
In 2017 students again worked with architect Antanas Proctura to design plans for the kitchen, using a successful application to the regional council’s Enviroschools Fund. Students then met with the Board of Trustees to get permission to continue. The school is now fundraising for the kitchen.