News and Events

Donovan School Community Action - 27 November 2020

The weather hardy group biked to the community nursery meaning that our ‘car park’ was full of bikes on Friday from Donovan School. As part of their year5/6 camp they visited the Southland Community Nursery for some conservation action. Big thanks for your mahi potting up NZ native seedlings and planting out in the restoration area - the start of some new forest.


Recent workshops - November 2020

Sustainable Coastlines shared their litter intelligence education programme with an amazing group of teachers and educators on 17 November. Lots of fun was had recreating a turtle journey and thinking how to prime students ready for litter survey and audit.

We also had Funshine Early Learning Centre staff from Riversdale join us on 20 November for some PLD - getting inspired by the Southland Community Nursery and surrounds, getting ideas galore for what they want to do at their place. Good luck with your project and we look forward to hearing about how it goes.

As always it was great to host these groups.


Wetland Wonders – St Teresa’s School, Bluff – 19 November 2020

St Teresa’s School visited today to add to their growing knowledge of wetlands after a spring suddenly appeared on their school playing field! Playing leaf bingo the tamariki identified a number of the NZ native plants that have been used in the restoration of the forest and wetland at the nursery property. Hands on action included potting up mānuka and mingimingi seedlings – both plants that like wet habitats. Looking at the leaves we collected the class learnt that not all NZ natives like a wet habitat. With each student becoming a NZ native plant that does like water the school mapped out their place, planning out the planting of their school grounds. Plants were chosen according to height, and whether the groundsman would appreciate having to pick up leaves (tī kōuka was left out of their planting plan for this reason!). Then each student had to match the plant on their card to a real life growing plant in the nursery – and these wetland species were taken back to school ready to be planted according to the plan that was acted out! We look forward to visiting the school to see their progress. Pond nets were then emptied to look at what lives in the water habitat – with kōura, damselfly larva, tadpoles, water snails, and water boatman discovered and observed. The day long learning was finished with a walk through the remnant kahikatea swamp forest – where plenty of plants that like wet feet could be seen.

Try mapping your school grounds - use our “School Nature Challenge: Creating a School Garden Area - Map Your Place” found at

Bronwyn and Chris

Pūtaiao Tamariki – October/November 2020

Facilitating the Pūtaiao Tamariki sessions, an engaging science discovery programme for Year 5/6 students which focused on hands-on, interactive outdoor- based learning was an absolute privilege to be involved with. This programme was delivered by Methodist Mission Southern with funding support from the Community Trust South.

Over 6 sessions the programme provided tamariki opportunities specifically designed to extend science know-how and confidence, whilst supporting and encouraging the growth of their life-skills. Travelling via minivan to different science environments within the community, and with whānau welcome to join the sessions it was great to have three schools Ascot Community, Donovan and Waverley Park involved with this programme.

Science observation skills – sight, hearing, feel, taste and smell – transferred to the natural world heading out around the pond track using senses to notice and learn about the natural world around us. Making animal tracking tunnels to take back to school was fun and prompts lead to some predictions on what type of things may leave tracks on the paper in the tunnel. The Southland Community Nursery also lent well to learning about and exploring different habitats and getting an idea of what lives where. The role of kaitiaki and caring for the environment was explored throughout the sessions.

Other sessions included becoming freshwater scientists to measure the health of the water of the Otepuni and exploring the significance of rivers to early Māori and the way in which rivers sustained life, and viewing the world of Queens Park as a physicist exploring solids, liquids and gases, forces and energy.

It was great to share my passion helping tamariki to engage with science and the environment in fun ways.


Chris Catching Up – October and November 2020!

After seeing Bronwyn’s monumental efforts here during our holidays and thanking Linda and Ray for keeping the Nursery going, here are a few stories to catch up!

Maud Island

From 28 October to 2 November 2020 Chris and Brian, along with friends Maggie and Stephen Elford, were fortunate to visit Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds. The visit was made possible by Anna and Em who are working as Rangers on the Island along with their young sons Fergus and Quin. The Island is predator free and after strict quarantine procedures we spent a good five days exploring the island, helping with traplines and tracking tunnels (to detect any incursions) and seeing the variety of rare and endangered creatures living there including the Maud Island frog, giant weta, cave weta, click beetle, flax weevil, fluttering shearwater, little blue penguins, gecko’s, morepork and other birds. It’s a spectacular place, steep but regenerating well after farming and what an amazing learning environment for the boys! Thanks Anna and Em Fergus and Quin.


Bookbinding and Making Nature Journals – Art Workshop with Jo Ogier - 17 and 18 October 2020

I came, I watched, I tried and tried some more! Jo brought samples of the beautiful Nature Journals she has created and filled with records of her travels. Filled with sketches that bring to life particular birds and places better than any bought keepsake, she inspired our group to begin our own personal notebooks. Printmaking, experimenting with inks, collage, ripping beautiful papers, textiles, cords and threads and generally getting to try out a variety of methods, tools and equipment meant everyone came up with a unique result – some possibly never to be repeated! But all surpassed our expectations.

Jo’s unfailing patience and humour whilst we asked questions, advice and for “HELP ME NOW PLEASE” for 2 full days, without ever looking harassed is a truly special gift.

I’m not sure what the weather was like except for not getting wet while we collected plant material to make our botanic prints – my concentration was kept fully occupied with the dramas happening under my nose.

The Education Centre delivered great light, comfortable working spaces, yummy shared food and inspiring company (not to mention a shining cuckoo that crashed into the window – and then flew off again). Thanks Chris and Jo for encouragement and opportunity.

Linda Jackson

Native Plant ID workshops

On 14 October 2020 SIT first year Environmental Management students visited the Nursery for practical part of Native Plant ID Course with Chris. Due to Covid restrictions Jesse had given two Plant ID sessions at the SIT Tay St Venue instead of at the Community Nursery. Chris then followed this up with a practical half-day session outside at the Nursery forest remnant, pond and restoration area. The students enthusiastically learned about local plant ID in a practical way as well as some principles of restoration and conservation.