Celebrating our Kaimahi For Nature Connection project 

by Lucy Carver

As funding draws to a close, we are thrilled to share the success of our Kaimahi For Nature Connection (KFNC) project, made possible by the Jobs for Nature initiative from the Department of Conservation (DOC). The KFNC project ran for the last three years and supported a wide range of programmes at Whenua Iti Outdoors. It was designed to overcome barriers that make nature an abstract concept and that limit action for the environment. Nature connection builds skills, confidence, connection, passion and care for the natural environment on a local, national and global scale. The well-being of people is intrinsically linked to the holistic well-being of nature. 

A range of groups came together to support the project including; Iwi, DOC, Tasman Educational Trust, local schools, and the wider community. 

Highlights include: 

  • Delivering over 11,250+ nature connection experiences to participants; 
  • Participants regularly checking 186 predator traps; 
  • Growing over 7,000 native trees in the Whenua Iti Nursery, with support from our programme participants, which were provided to local landowners to plant in our local catchment; 
  • Planting 910 native trees on our programmes to assist with local conservation projects
  • Expanding our tutor team with 6 FTE roles to support the delivery of nature connection programming, growing our environmental education capacity; 
  • Creating digital resources for parents and teachers to use when engaging their children and students in environmentally focused subjects. 

To address climate change we need citizens throughout the community who have experienced multiple, positive nature connection experiences from an early age. We find that environmental education offers these experiences to tamariki and rangatahi and helps to create increased awareness of the environmental issues in their local area. Furthermore, this exposure often leads to advocacy and volunteering later in life as adults.  

Several programmes like our MEA and MOA programmes, the Environmental Action Camp and the Environmental Sustainability Trades programme are a regular part of our Whenua Iti programme suite and include strong elements of nature connection and conservation education. Importantly, these programmes – and facilities like the nursery – have been received positively by other funders, supporters and local businesses looking to have a more positive environmental approach. 

The KFNC project demonstrates that, with a consortium of agencies, the framework for sustained environmental education can be successfully co-developed at a local level. As the KFNC project wraps up we are grateful for the opportunity and urge the government to continue funding for such vital initiatives. Together, we can sustain momentum for nature conservation and community well-being!  

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.