Education for sustainability

Te Kura O Papatuanuku Wairarapa Earth School fosters a passion for science and technology through hands-on garden-based learning. Our primary charitable purpose is the advancement of education. The project's core focus is education for sustainability.

All our projects are based on the future-focussed, overarching sustainability theme - using the connection with a healthy future for our planet as a key to engaging students in science, technology, engineering, maths, art and design and matauranga Maori.  

The project-based learning approach, in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge, is used to capture student passion and interest in the project.

Sustainability is a critical issue for New Zealand – environmentally, economically, culturally, politically, and socially. We need to learn how to live smarter to reduce our impact on the environment for future generations. The future-focus theme of sustainability is evident throughout The New Zealand Curriculum. It is integral to the vision, principles, values, and key competencies, and provides relevant and authentic contexts across the eight learning areas. Education has a crucial role to play in providing the knowledge base that will support critical thinking and discussion on this subject, teaching science and technology as key competencies to achieving sustainable societies (Taylor et al. 2015).

Earth School has four main objectives:

  1. To empower students to take informed action for a sustainable future.

  2. Provide students with access to healthy, fresh kai and the skills to grow, cook and preserve their own fruit and vegetables.  

  3. To use project-based outdoor learning to teach STEAMM subjects (Science, Technology, Art, Maths and Mātauranga Māori.

  4. To build a sustainable and resilient Wairarapa community.

Our long term goal is to develop a Centre for Sustainability at South End School in Carterton, where science and technology student led enquiry comes to life in the garden classroom. To develop a central Wairarapa learning hub for people of all ages supporting the wider Wairarapa community towards sustainability and science literacy.


Our People

We have a large and diverse operations team some who give their time as volunteers and others are funded through specific projects.

Sarah Wright - Founder, Project Coordinator

Emilie Fleur Neubauer - Founder, Project Coordinator, Biologist

Tom Conwell and Richard Ashcroft - Landscape Architects

Leo Mehrtens - Market Gardener/Landscaper

Jules Austin and Mariko Sato - Teaching Assistants

Rachael Dell - Community Liaison

Jason Markham - beekeeper

Ra Smith - mātauranga Māori expert, storyteller

Lucia Zanmonti - photographer, beekeeper, horticulturist

Odette Rowe and Davina Thompson - medicinal plant experts

Julie Jones, Hayden Trass, and Vicky Pilling - Educational Consultants


Our trustees

We have an active board of trustees from diverse backgrounds and skills, all give their time voluntarily to meet monthly with the operations team to build better outcomes for our students and community.

Jen Craddock - Chair

Lisa Birrell - Treasurer

Steven Williams - Trust secretary

Jason Markham

Joanna Hehir


Our partners

Te kura o papatuanuku was founded as a partnership between the Wairarapa Montessori Charitable Trust, South End School, Kuranui College, and Makora College. We are so very grateful to the students of these three schools for their ideas and enthusiasm. Other partners are listed below:

Boomerang Bags Carterton

Carterton District Council

Cameron Family Farms

Community Fruit Harvesting Wairarapa

Danu Natural

Fernridge School

Food Forest Organics

Pakaraka Permaculture

Pure Wairarapa


King St Art

Victoria University School of Architecture,

Zero Waste Wairarapa


Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the following funders for their recent financial support, alongside business sponsors who have donated their time and products in addition to the many community organisations who have generously donated to our project:

Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS)

Cameron Family Farms

Carterton District Council

Curious Minds MBIE

Organic NZ Project Gro

Pure Wairarapa

Trust House