Fernridge year six pupils Lucia Gibbs and Marco Feast sit beside the Enviroschools taonga, along with Fernridge staff and pupils. Preschoolers Helena Kokich and Aria Furneaux, foreground, presented the artwork along with some of their own. They were from last year’s chosen school, Peninsula Early Learning in Miramar. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

ARTHUR HAWKES
arthur.hawkes@age.co.nz

Fernridge School in Masterton has been asked by Enviroschools [a national school sustainability group partnered with the government] to hold a special piece of artwork, in recognition of their continued environmental excellence.

The artwork was one of 55 pieces created by Sheyne Tuffery, commissioned by Greenpeace, to represent the 55 remaining endangered Maui dolphins at the time in 2012 [there are now 63].

Each print was then given to a politician – Tariana Turia of the Maori Party was selected as one of these people.

She would later give Enviroschools the artwork, to use for recognising stellar schools.

Schools and centres in the Wellington region were selected annually to hold the artwork in recognition of their commitment, action, and modelling of the Enviroschools kaupapa [principles] in their school or centre.

The transition of the artwork, or taonga [sacred object], had been from Koraunui School in Lower Hutt, to Peninsula Early Learning in Miramar.

Enviroschools selected Fernridge as the next caretakers of the piece.

Presenting the print were Amanda Dobson and Karyn Burgess from Enviroschools’ Wellington regional branch.

After a waiata from the Fernridge pupils, Burgess spoke on how well they had done with various environmental and sustainability programmes, surprising them with the fact that she had even been a teacher at Fernridge many years ago.

Burgess said Fernridge had been “doing amazing things, and completely transforming their environment”.

At the ceremony in Fernridge’s hall, year six pupils Lucia Gibbs and Marco Feast received the print from two preschoolers at Peninsula Early Learning, Helena Kokich and Aria Furneaux, along with Dobson and Burgess from Enviroschools.

Fernridge assistant principal Roger Graham [pictured top right] said the pupils had embodied an environmental ethos in everything they did, in both building sustainable projects at the school, and promoting advocacy in all areas of the environment.

He listed several initiatives from recycling, to worm composting, to planting, as well as an outdoor learning classroom, and gardening areas under constant development.

“We’ve been on an enviro-journey for a long time,” Graham said.

“The kids have been doing a lot of planting, and it’s really just getting into that mindset that our environment is very important, and a massive part of our whole learning.

“It’s not just a component – it’s pretty much everything we do here.”

For a school to be selected as guardians of the artwork, Enviroschools had to recognise several factors; the school must have been taking action in a meaningful context [demonstrating kaitiakitanga – guardianship and protection]; the school must have shown evidence of several Enviroschools principles in action; and the school must have participated in the Enviroschools network by sharing their mahi [work] and journey and by being strong role models for others.