News and Events

Jo Ogier Workshop weekend – 7-8 October 2017

Jo’s third weekend workshop here at the Education Centre was a great success. No surprises there! As the topic was “Nature Journaling” we started the first day with a walk by the pond – Jo asking everyone to take a few minutes in silence to “feel” and experience the environment – even the ducks went quiet! There were a range of observations – the sun on your face, the patterns on the water, the breeze on the skin, the sound of birdsong, the scent of the kohuhu, the shade on the tree trunks, the layers of the forest, the ripples on the water, the clematis flowers. Nature Journaling is all about observation – drawing, painting, writing, feeling and keeping a visual diary – it is very much for you.

Then Chris led a walk around the pond with everyone picking leaf specimens and twigs for drawing back at the Education Centre. Jo then demonstrated various techniques (it was a joy to watch) followed by the intense concentration of doing the various drawing exercises – it was very quiet, just like a school exam room or a library! After a shared lunch, everyone was back into it – outside again finding your own special area to sit and draw – the bluebell garden, the pond, the bush, the vegetable gardens – wherever the feeling or subject took you.

The second day was a feast of colour. Starting with colour wheels everyone then used their own colour medium – pencils, water colours etc to go through another set of exercises, with Jo there to help and advise. Again she demonstrated the various techniques first and people then put them into practice. People again went out to take advantage of the glorious weather and different environments – the flower garden and orchards, ponds, tussocks and bush. As Chris walked around she kept finding people in all sorts of unusual places!

Jo said the Education Centre is such a perfect venue for such a course as it combines opportunities for outside study with the comfort of the Education Centre which has good light and excellent views to get you in the right mood.

Although everyone seemed exhausted at the end they all thanked Jo for a wonderfully inspiring weekend. We look forward to Jo’s next workshop – perhaps on printmaking. If you are interested in future courses email Chris and she will put you on the email list. Thanks Jo for coming down from Christchurch and to the ILT for funding our workshops this year and making them very affordable for everyone.


Wow – What a night!!

The Environment Southland team of Shaun Cunningham, Ali Meade and Tom Harding organised a great community biodiversity night on Saturday 30th September here at the Education Centre. Around 40 people came to see what goes on in the night. The neighbours must have thought some strange pagan festival was happening as strange murmurings, light traps and spotlights lit the air!

But first, some interesting talks - Marie Haley from the Banks Peninsular Conservation Trust talked about a restoration project on a grand scale, Estelle Leask on the fabulous work happening at Motopohue/Bluff Hill, Brenton Wilson from DOC showing off the “Walk the Line” pest trapping App and Catriona Gower the batwoman from the Catlins – enthusing us all to go out and survey for bats in our local areas. Ian Davidson Watts another bat expert from Gore was also on hand with his bat loggers set up previously on the edge of Rances Bush. Lloyd Esler had set up a light trap in the paddock and we all crowded around to see what had been attracted – a surprising number of moths for a cool early spring night. Then a walk around the pond on a wonderful calm starry night with bat loggers. Although we didn’t detect any bats on the night – watch this space!

And then there was the excellent food delivered from “Food at Clifton” - which had everyone gathering, networking and sharing information and having a really good catch up with like-minded people. The fact that people stayed well beyond the official finish time shows just how valuable such events are.

Now we are all ready for the Bioblitz at Daffodil Bay, Sandy Point on Saturday 14 October 2017 – 10am-4pm. For more information contact Environment Southland biodiversity programme coordinator Ali Meade on 0800 76 88 45


Jo Ogier Art Workshop 7-8 October – one place left!

We have one place left for the Jo Ogier Art Workshop. Jo is a well know New Zealand Artist and the Community Nursery is sponsoring this weekend workshop to bring Jo down from Christchurch. The workshop is just $100 for two days. Further details are at

And if you would like to go onto a list for this or future workshops email Chris at

Fernworth Primary School – 21 September 2017

Twenty eight enthusiastic children from Fernworth Primary came to experience the Community Nursery and Bush on 21 September.

After a walk through from the carpark, following signs and looking at fruit and vegetable gardens and the wormfarm, the group, accompanied by teachers Terry and Sue and Scott from KidsCan made their way into the Education Centre. A bit of learning about potential hazards like ponds and traps and the children were divided into two groups. Chris led one group around the ponds and bush – matching leaves and learning about maori traditional uses for plants as well as finding birds in the bush. Ray led the other group – sowing native seeds and potting up plants. After swapping over activities the students came back to the Education Centre and reported back on their activities and then did a rousing haka for the Community Nursery volunteers – Chris, Ray, Linda, Sarah, Amy, and Edith. Seldom have we had a group of such enthusiastic and very well behaved children who are a credit to their school and were a joy to show around.


Soap Making with Natural Materials – 26 August and 23 September 2017

Honorlea held another two natural body products workshops in August and September. These two workshops were soap making – and there is much more to it than you’d think. Honorlea is a qualified formulation chemist and so is very skilled, but the science is explained in a manner that makes people feel at ease and all the workshops are held in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. She also prides herself on sourcing natural materials from reputable suppliers and also takes account of “air miles” explaining that being “certified organic” doesn’t necessarily mean the product hasn’t had an impact travelling around the world. Researching local natural products and supporting local communities is a particular passion for Honorlea – she spent 13 years in outback Australia working with local communities and learning lots about traditional ways of doing things – and from that developed a sound knowledge base. She is very open to sharing whatever information she has researched. Honorlea has also developed Kakariki Natural Body Products kits to sell – see and has a Christmas event planned for 25 November 17 in the Education Centre – bookings essential – see more details at

Networking – you never know who you’ll meet at a workshop! Sophie Cundall age 10 was accompanied by her gran and together they made soap, but Sophie also told us about the Bee Mobile Phone App that she and two Makarewa school friends had made to help save bees.

The girls not only won the South Island regional prize in the Tech Girl Superhero competition but also the prestigious United Nations Environment Award which means they have the opportunity to pitch their app in San Francisco, August 2018. – see this link for all you need to know about bees They are now fundraising to go to San Francisco!


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