Green dreams flourish for five Kiwi schools


Reporoa Primary School

For the first time in the 10-year history of the Treemendous School Makeover programme, five lucky schools will each receive $10,000 to create their own outdoor education space.

With the extremely high calibre of this years’ entries, five winners instead of the usual four were chosen to take part in the makeovers, a joint initiative between the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson.

Reporoa School (Bay of Plenty), Nelson Central School (Nelson), Houghton Valley School (Wellington), Leithfield School (Canterbury) and Alexandra Primary School (Otago) will each be transformed in 2017 by the Treemendous team with a native tree planting makeover.

“Next year marks the ten-year anniversary of the Treemendous makeover programme so we thought it fitting to break with tradition and throw in an extra school to celebrate,” says Andrew Clearwater, Chairman of the Mazda Foundation. “There was also exceptional vision and creativity displayed in the entries which made it hard to choose just four.”

The schools will each receive an environmentally focused outdoor education area for students to explore and foster their environmental awareness.

“Each year we marvel at the aspirations of both students and teachers from around the country as they envisage new and creative ways to enhance their outdoor learning environments. There’s something quite heart-warming in seeing our next generation with such appreciation and enthusiasm for the environment,” remarks Clearwater.

Reporoa School will convert an unused paddock into an outdoor interactive learning habitat with the main focal features being a series of pathways that work their way through native plantings and an outdoor learning platform.

Richelle McDonald from Reporoa School says they plan to continue developing the makeover area with an orchard and kai gardens in the future.

“We are a country school with a roll of less than 120 students but that will not stop us from achieving great things, we are so grateful for the huge first step thanks to Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation.”

Nelson Central School is currently working on a waste minimisation initiative. They have plans to plant natives to entice birds and insects to the school to create healthy habitats and ecosystems.

Nelson Central School

Nelson Central School

Lynley Walters of Nelson Central School says the students plan is a bold one, hoping to make their own compost for the gardens and have a worm farm as part of the waste management systems. The children will also create a magical area with pathways, huts and creative spaces where they can learn amongst the flora and fauna.

“Our students are really enthusiastic about the environment and sustainability and can’t wait to see all the native birds the garden will attract. It’s going to be great to see their creative ideas turn into reality.

“As we’re based in the inner city some of our children have never been exposed to a natural play environment. We want to create an area where they can enjoy imaginative play while surrounded by native trees and plants. This hands-on experience will be life changing for our children!”

Houghton Valley School has a very large area that will be transformed into a key outdoor learning zone surrounded by paths and seating. A viewing platform will be constructed for the students to observe the extensive planting of native trees, including rata epiphytes, which will enhance the school’s bush surroundings.


Houghton Valley School

The native garden, bush plot and outdoor classroom is where children will learn about native flora and fauna, explains principal Raewyn Watson.

“We’re very excited about the makeover and hope it’ll encourage more wildlife to the area. We’ve carefully planned the planting with the vision that the trees and shelter will entice native birds.”

Leithfield School have a huge vision to go with the incredible area they want to makeover, which is five times the size of any of the other winning schools. They will develop the banks of the stream that runs through their school into an outdoor learning space, combining an extensive planting of natives with “trees of the world”. The area will also include a series of garden beds and a community orchard, with seating throughout.

Leithfield School

Leithfield School

“Winning the makeover means we can progress our project in one piece instead of having to do it bit by bit. We know this is a huge undertaking and we’re dreaming big, but we’re confident that our school community and the Treemendous team can rally together and pull this one off,” says Sharon Marsh, Leithfield School Principal.

“The most important thing is that it provides a “real”, practical connection between the school and the community which is one of our school strategic goals. We feel extremely privileged to be given the opportunity to provide hands-on, real-life learning, enabling the students to immerse themselves in nature during class and playtime.”

Alexandra Primary School

Alexandra Primary School

Alexandra Primary School has plans to incorporate the original stone from Alexandra’s first school building into its outdoor classroom. It will see schist paths coursing through tussocks and hebes, which will eventually lead back to the little stone school. There will also be a Kowhai grove, as well as a mini orchard.

Fiona Mackley of Alexandra Primary School says they are imagining features such as a small deck with surrounding amphitheatre, a sandpit with water features to encourage experimentation and a skink-friendly garden.

“We are over the moon that our little school has been chosen to receive a Treemendous School Makeover,” says Mackley.

The Treemendous team will carry out all five makeovers in 2017, with help from the schools, local Mazda dealership staff, Mazda Foundation Trustees and Project Crimson.

Joris de Bres, Project Crimson Trust Chair, said it was encouraging to see schools around the country embracing the importance of conservation and outdoor education.

“All of the entries we received this year really showcased the creativity and enthusiasm for the environment in schools around the country.

“Thirty-five schools have benefited from Treemendous Makeovers since the program’s inception almost ten years ago and we’re excited to see what the next round of entries in 2017 bring,” says de Bres.

All Primary and Intermediate Schools can apply for a Treemendous School Makeover. Finalists will receive $500 for their school and the winning four schools will receive a $10,000 Treemendous School Makeover. Entries will open again in the first term of the New Year.

Please visit: for more information.

This year’s Treeemendous School Makeovers will be on the following dates:

18 March – Alexandra School

6 May  – Leithfield (Canterbury)

17 June – Nelson Central

12 August – Houghton Valley School (Wellington)

16 Sept – Reporoa (Rotorua)

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