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  • The New Zealand Curriculum guide for senior secondary schools discusses education for sustainability – learning to think and act in ways that safeguard the wellbeing of people and the planet.

    Within the context of education for sustainability, students explore the relationship between people and the environment. They learn about the environmental, social, cultural and economic aspects (components) of sustainability.

    This teacher resource presents a table that gives a brief explanation of each of the four aspects or components of sustainability. It includes some of the concepts that relate to each aspect and gives examples of these concepts in the context of restoring the Waikato River.

    A more detailed explanation of the aspects of sustainability and the concepts that relate to them can be found on the TKI website here.



    Example concerning the restoration of the Waikato River

    Environmental sustainability

    Maintaining the integrity of life support systems.

    Respect for all life

    Protection of all species in and around the river.


    Protect and encourage a wide range of species in and around the river.

    Action orientation

    Riparian planting along the river by groups of people.

    Social sustainability

    Equity within and between generations and within and between ethnic and social groups. It’s based on the fair distribution of natural resources.

    Social justice

    Iwi who have historical links to the river, all people who have an interest in the river (including business) and government work together to co-manage the river for the benefit of all.


    Hapū and the wider community work together and develop partnerships for the wellbeing of the river.


    People are seeking to become informed and are actively involved in the restoration of the river.

    Cultural sustainability

    The nourishment and sharing of attitudes and values that represent diverse ways of viewing the world. Citizens have the opportunity to express their views freely and participate in decision-making.

    Intergenerational equity

    People today are working towards restoring the river to its former health so that future generations can live in harmony with it.

    Cultural diversity

    Indigenous worldviews and other worldviews that inform different ways of thinking and knowing are being taken into account when considering the health and wellbeing of the river.


    Communities and iwi are working together to care for the river.

    Economic sustainability

    Using resources to provide necessary and desirable products and services for the next generation without comprising the ability of future generations to do the same.

    Finite resources

    Scientists and iwi are working together to restore tuna (eels) and whitebait populations in the river.


    Knowledge, attitudes and values are being passed on that lead to the sustainable use of resources from the river, such as whitebait and tuna (eels).

      Published 19 March 2014 Referencing Hub articles
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