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  • Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council
    Published 12 March 2020 Referencing Hub media

    Educators and scientists speak about taking action in the local environment to make a difference, build connections and gain hope for the future.

    Question for discussion:

    • Alex Daniel says that small steps are like drops in an ocean. What do you think she means by this?



    There’s a lot of concern from young, young children about the state of the environment, about changes, about climate change. Often for kids, it seems like it’s such a huge issue, what on Earth can I do? And so there’s these increasing feelings of powerlessness, of hopelessness. And I think as educators we’ve got to be really mindful that we don’t leave them in that space. Being able to use resources and engage in investigations such as Rivers and Us offers, means that you can identify what are some of the issues. So what can I do to make a difference in my backyard? I’ve got some good data to base this on. And so then they are able to take action. It links to their environment, it’s not just some global generalised thing. And it’s about their people, their tangata whenua and it gives them power. The other really cool thing is it builds connections with communities. We talk about home/school partnerships, and it’s really important to offer opportunities for this – and this type of resource taps into community concerns.


    There are so many wonderful community groups around the country doing amazing work, and if you’re really, really keen, find somebody local doing some work that’s interesting and become involved. The future is going to depend on us all taking action now about different aspects of the environment and the way we live our lives with respect to the land. It’s not just about gully restoration or education, it’s also about offering an opportunity for the connection of people in a green space where people can just be and really enjoy and begin to value, and we look to restoring the gully as providing social and cultural outcomes as well as the environmental outcomes.


    I just strongly encourage staff and students engage with your community, get the kids learning, give them an opportunity, taking that first step into seeing what is in your local waterways and building those connections with the community. Often people think that what they do won’t make a difference, but it’s those small steps. It’s like drops in an ocean.


    Every little thing that you can do is going to have a positive effect on restoring that waterway. Environmental restoration is not a quick overnight fix – things take time. But it’s really going back to a piece of native bush 5 years later, and the birdlife has increased or your plants have grown and you’ve found a lot more invertebrates in the stream. So you sometimes have to be patient, but it’s worth the wait.


    Anne Barker

    Te Whai Toi Tangata Institute of Professional Learning

    Lynnette Rogers

    The Fairfield Project

    Jordan, Lucy, Hannah, Jess and Sam, Waikato Diocesan School for Girls

    Jake and Sarah, Bankwood Primary School

    Alex Daniel

    Alice Trevelyan

    Waikato Regional Council

    Youth climate change protest stills from Wellington, Judi Lapsley-Miller. Released under CC-BY-4.0

    Youth climate change protest stills from Napier, Rachel Douglas

    Footage of community planting, Department of Conservation. Released under CC BY 3.0

    Footage of gully weeding, rubbish removal and planting out, The Fairfield Project

    Footage of preschoolers in bush, Department of Conservation. Released under CC BY 3.0


    This video has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.

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