Annual Education Report

I started in the role of Environmental Educator for the Manawahe Eco Trust on the 29th of October 2018. It has been an exciting and busy year.

We had no schools booked for the end of 2018.  This was good as it gave me time to understand the programmes at Manawahe and also come up with some ideas of my own.  It was also a great time to market the centre. In 2019 schools have been involved in various different programmes encompassing many different activities – there has been 15 schools over 35 days, with 584 students and 157 adults accompanying them.

2019 Activities at the Manawahe Ecological Centre

  • Rat trap building
  • Weta house making
  • Solar shower making
  • Trap and pest control
  • Food forest clearing and planting
  • Weed busting
  • Tree planting
  • Track clearing
  • Environmental games
  • Compost bin making
  • Environmental Scavenger hunts
  • Kokako listening
  • Karaponga Falls walks
  • Native tree Orienteering
  • Problem solving and team building challenges
  • Minimal waste lessons
  • Bees wraps
  • Multisport race/ 4 hr adventure race


Schools Multisport race – The schools multisport race continues to grow with this year having 58 teams of two from around the Bay of Plenty.  The schools that participated were: Opotiki College, Edgecumbe College, Whakatane High School, Trident High School, Whakatane Intermediate School, Papamoa College, Tauranga Girls College, Rotorua Boys High School, Awakeri Primary School, Thornton School. It was great having the race based at the school with the use of the local farms for the trails.  I will look at doing something similar for next year.

New features at Manawahe:

Food ForestThis has been a new initiative for the centre and it has proven to be a great activity for schools.  The idea behind it is to have a food source for the groups that come up to the centre.  So far we have planted 5 apple trees, a mandarin, feijoa, blueberries, and a peach tree.  Students have been involved in clearing weeds and designing gardens and planting herbs and vegetables. The next step is to try and get seed gathering and seed sowing and seedling planting.  The main idea is to get the garden to be sustainable.

Minimal Waste for campsI am keen to make Manawahe a minimal waste centre.  I have offered a catered camp which showcases how we can be minimal waste. Our local butchery in Edgecumbe Rangitaiki Home kills will provide meat in buckets, Pak N Save Whakatane will do bread in boxes, Bin inn Whakatane do bulk cereals and the fresh market provide vegetables in boxes.  So far this year the schools have really appreciated having this option, as well as the lesson that goes with it. We need to try and make Manawahe a minimal waste facility and get people to think about their packaging on food. I would like students to leave the centre having made for themselves a bees wax food wrap.

2020 – My plan for next year is to try and grow the number of schools visiting.  I would like to see schools commit to an ongoing programme and to take responsibility for an area at MECC or even be involved in the trapping and pest control programme.  I would also like to see other groups visit and take part in a programme.  This could include the likes of the Motorhome rally including an environmental programme as part of their weekend.

NCEA  – I am keen to to market the opportunity for NCEA qualification based activities at Manawahe.  This is something I know has happened in the past.   We have only had three schools this year that have done this.

Adult Multisport/Environmental eventThis is an event that I would like to see happen at Manawahe and is part of my focus for 2020.  It would be great to see an event that is unique to Manawahe and something that we can use to showcase this amazing area even more.

Finally I would like to say I have really enjoyed the challenge of my new role as an Environmental Educator.  I have entered into an area of Education which is vital for all of us.  I have loved seeing young people engage and enjoy being part of the programmes at Manawahe. The enthusiasm as a team for protecting the environment and in particular Manawahe is amazing.


Helen Dobbin