Nature Connection Programmes

Whenua Iti Outdoors, in partnership with local iwi and conservation groups, has developed the Kaimahi for Nature Connection (KFNC) Project which seeks to provide nature connection experiences to as many tamariki & rangatahi in schools, iwi and community groups as possible in the Top of the South, within the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance regions.

Funded by Jobs for Nature, the project will run for three years, and we are developing and running programmes this year. Please check this page regularly to see the latest initiatives, programmes, news & resources.

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Latest Project News

New Nature Connection Activities for Lockdown

Our team have been busy putting together a fantastic collection of activities aimed at tamariki aged 7+ - there are more than 10 to choose from! And, we're giving away prizes to any tamariki who complete 5 or more activities by Friday 10th September! We hope you have fun with them.

> Discover new activities
primary holiday beach circle up group

Lots of fun in Nature on the Kaitiaki Kids Programme

We had a fabulous week of weather for the Kaitiaki Kids Programme last holidays that took 11-13 year olds out into the outdoors for some fun adventure interwoven with nature connection games & activities - they kayaked, collected & cooked kai moana, planted trees, rock-climbed and ventured to the Abel Tasman camping out for the night - we will definitely run this again!

New Kaiako Appointed to the Project Team

We have given a warm Whenua Iti welcome to the new kaiako who have been appointed thanks to Jobs for Nature funding. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful array of knowledge & skills enrich our team and start the planning of programme delivery. Dana is pleased to have the help!

What is Nature Connection?

Nature connection is about feeling part of nature. Being in nature regularly and intentionally allows children to experience the interconnectedness of the world around them, explore it and learn from it. In matauranga Māori, the natural world is an interconnected whānau (whanaungatanga). The weather, birds, fish and trees, sun and moon are related to each other, and to tangata whenua. This "web of life" where humans live within earth's natural ecosystem is also the underpinning of scientific fields like ecology.

Why is Nature Connection Important?

Being connected to nature has reciprocal benefits. Frequent, positive childhood experiences with nature has a major impact on the healthy growth of a child’s mind, body and spirit. It can stimulate creativity, improve focus, and build confidence. This connection can also build the underpinning of a caring approach or a sense of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of the natural world in later life.

How does WIO help young people connect with nature?

WIO has developed programmes that connect students with nature and nurture their sense of kaitiakitanga. Programmes at primary & secondary level incorporate learning about the world around us, while immersed the outdoors. Younger participants develop a connection with nature through fun, exploration, and guided discovery. Secondary students build on this relationship to learn about more complex ecosystem relationships, biodiversity management and environmental principles.

The Aims of the Project

The goals of the Kaimahi for Nature Connection project are to:

  1. Enhance the wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi
  2. Increase  tamariki and rangatahi's knowledge of the natural world and their connection to it
  3. Increase the connection between schools and conservation groups and local natural areas
  4. Improve long term environmental and biodiversity outcomes.

Ko au te taiao, te taiao ko au

I am nature, nature is me


Introducing Dana Carter - Kaimahi for Nature Connection Project Lead

Kia ora, I love adventures and explorations in the natural environment with my children, and have 20 years of experience working in the environmental and sustainability fields. Most recently I was the regional coordinator of the Enviroschools programme in Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui (Wellington), and am currently Chair of the Motueka South School Board. I look forward to working with schools to develop further opportunities to connect your students with nature in this amazing environment of Te Tau Ihu.

Our Partners & Funders

jobs for nature

Find out more about this programme of funding on the Ministry of Environment website.


Read more about the mahi Ngāti Koata do for the environment on their website


Read the latest e-Pānui from the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance.

Nature Connection Programmes

Kaitiaki Leadership (L3)

Connect to nature while developing your outdoor adventure skills in our local national parks on 3 x 3-day expeditions, learning about conservation & biodiversity management to protect these taonga. This…

> Find out more
16 - 18 year old's
Overnight expedition format
9 days / 8 nights
  • Adventure
  • Nature Connection
  • Environment

Kaitiaki Kids

The Kaitiaki Kids holiday programme is designed as a stepping stone for intermediate-aged adventurers towards our fully residential (overnight) journey programmes. The Kaitaiki Kids programme incorporates a single overnight adventure…

> Find out more
10 -12 yr olds
Mix of day-programmes & one overnight
5 days (9am - 3pm) and one overnight (Thursday)
  • Adventure
  • Environment
  • Nature Connection

MEA – Mini Environmental Adventure

Designed for younger adventurers, the Mini Environmental Adventure Programme will extend student’s experiences of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions and discussions. Programme Overview Students will go on…

> Find out more
Years 1-4
Day programme
9.30am - 2pm
  • Environment
  • Nature Connection
raft building at Kaiteriteri Beach

Go Wild (in Nature!)

The Go Wild programme is designed for our younger adventurers and involves 5 days of action, nature immersion and outdoor exploration. This programme is available on the West Coast &…

> Find out more
7 - 10 yr olds
A week of day-programmes
5 days (9am - 3pm)
  • Adventure
  • Environment
  • Nature Connection

Want to find out more about a programme or have a question for us? Talk to one of our friendly team - we're happy to help.