Small country school in Northland leading the way with TREEmendous outdoor learning space


Hukerenui School, a rural school about 30 minutes north of Whangārei, has created an extensive outdoor learning space so its students can learn from nature in an authentic environment.

After planting hundreds of native trees and shrubs over the weekend, the school can now add becoming a TREEmendous school to its list of eco-friendly accomplishments.

Not only does the school have its own maize company that raises funds for the school, it also creates and sells lavender products such as bath bombs that students make from distilling the lavender grown in its garden. The students are also taught how to make lip balm from wax extracted from its five beehives and how to felt with the wool from their two alpacas.

The school also boasts an orchard that is cared for by the junior class and its fruits encourage the children to make healthy snack choices. As if that weren’t enough, it also has a vegetable garden and is currently building a new outdoor playground.

Hukerenui School was one of five schools selected to win a $10,000 grant towards creating an outdoor learning space this year thanks to TREEmendous, a joint initiative between Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation.

Teachers, students, the wider community as well as Mazda Foundation Trustees and the Project Crimson team, all mucked in to help transform the school’s western boundary fence area into a useful learning space.

Ex-student and Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Winston Peters was also in attendance to help inspire the students in their environmental endeavours.

Margaret Holmes, Acting Principal at Hukerenui School, says the planting will be a great addition to the school’s outdoor learning resources.

“We are so excited to be able to use the area as an educational aid to teach students about how important trees are to our ecosystem,” she says.

Mazda Foundation Chairman David Hodge says it was inspiring to visit a school that is already so committed to caring for the environment and using natural resources to educate its students.

“It’s one thing to teach students about the environment in a classroom, but if you can get them outside nature can be a great learning tool.

“What Hukerenui School has done to create an authentic outdoor learning environment for its students is so impressive, and I’m glad we were able to help them expand it even more,” he says.

On Friday, Mazda Ambassadors, marine scientist Riley ‘The Sharkman’ Elliott and Ruud ‘The Bugman’ Kleinpaste, visited the school.

Riley spoke to the students about the importance of taking care of our natural environment. Ruud introduced his insect friends and spoke with both teachers and students about the important role bugs play in preserving our ecosystem.

Hukerenui School is the third school to be visited by the TREEmendous team this year, with Te Uku School and Aparima College up next. This event marks the 47th school to get the TREEmendous treatment in the last 11 years!

Check out the images from Hukerenui School’s TREEmendous event here.

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