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Educator Pip Tisdall and a student from Lawrence Area Primary School learning with Harold inside...
Educator Pip Tisdall and a student from Lawrence Area Primary School learning with Harold inside the mobile classroom. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Life Education Trust Heartland Otago Southland’s health and wellbeing programme is in such high demand that it is expanding.

The programme is familiar for its mobile classroom and mascot Harold the Giraffe.

The mobile classroom and qualified educator travel the Heartland to primary and intermediate schools from Makarora to Milton, Glenorchy to Gore, Mosgiel and Maniototo.

The programme engages children’s imaginations, teaching them how brilliant the human body is, about healthy eating and lives, relationships and communities, and resilience and their identity.

The programme reaches more than 90% of tamariki aged 5 to 13 in its area during a two-year period. Tamariki are then equipped to make informed decisions affecting their own health and wellbeing.

Last year Life Education taught 1006 individualised lessons at 56 schools, catering for 6841 children.

Life Education Trust is the biggest provider in schools working alongside teachers to deliver the health curriculum.

As a charitable trust, it receives no government funding and relies on community generosity.

The demand is so great that it cannot accommodate all schools requesting a visit into the school year.

It has recently bought a second classroom and employed a second educator to allow it to see an extra 5000 children a year, and the capacity to visit all schools annually.

The programme’s services continue to be needed more than ever in this challenging and complex society, its administrators said.

To find out more or to make a donation, please visit www.heartland.org.nz


IGNITE CONSULTANTS - Volunteers help each other 

Mutual benefits are the mainstay of the student-led, student-run Dunedin charity Ignite Consultants.

For 14 years it has been providing free consultancy services to non-profit groups. ‘‘Since its creation, we have created a branch in Wellington, worked with over 90 different not-for-profit organisations, and trained and supported over 600 consultants from the University of Otago who have put in over 50,000 hours of volunteering,’’ chief executive Samantha White says.

‘‘Ignite’s an opportunity for students and not-for-profits to learn from one another. Students gain leadership skills and the unique opportunity to engage with our community in a professional capacity that has real and resounding results. Not-for-profits, meanwhile, benefit from the work of a team of highly motivated, altruistic students armed with fresh ideas and a passion for improving the community we live in.

’’Ignite works with groups in healthcare (The Wellness Gym, K9MD), climate change (Protect Our Winters, Taste Nature Social Enterprise), social (Otago Neighbourhood Support, OCASA), and cultural (Te Hou Ora Whanau Services, Arai Te Uru Marae.)‘‘Ignite continues to grow year on year,’’ Samantha said.

‘‘In 2023, we have had a huge demand in both consultants and charities. This year we have focused on growing our diversity to ensure we have a range of students from different degrees, ethnicities, and ages.

’’Ignite has held diversity huis and cultural competency workshops and is involved with projects ranging from one weekend to one year.

Visit our website www.igniteconsultants.co.nz/



DOWNER NEW ZEALAND LTD -  Growing great environments 
Downer's Otago Transport & Infrastructure team does much more than first meets the eye. PHOTO:...
Downer's Otago Transport & Infrastructure team does much more than first meets the eye. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Dunedin’s Downer New Zealand is supporting Otago literally from the ground up.

In collaboration with the Otago Corrections Facility and community groups, Downer grows and plants toetoe, manuka, tussocks, and flax seedlings.

Downer buys seeds and the supplies needed to grow them and donates them to the corrections facility.

‘‘Here, residents grow and nurture them into seedlings before they are planted across the region by sustainability-focused groups so that they can grow and flourish,’’ Downer Otago regional manager Chris Jones says. ‘‘Downer’s Otago Transport & Infrastructure team leads the local initiative and has donated over 3000 plants at a value of almost $40,000.

’’Native plants are the best option for the taiao (environment), Chris says.

‘‘Through planting native species, we support biodiversity, provide natural habitats for native wildlife, stabilise soil and enhance water quality. It helps that they look great too.

‘‘The initiative not only enriches the environment with more native plants, but it also enriches the lives of everyone involved by providing learning, self-growth, and connection to the taiao.

’’Volunteer groups that receive the seedlings are delighted.

‘‘Thank you so much for the wonderful natives,’’ the Ōtokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust said to Downer.

‘‘They are now in our nursery. These will all go into the marsh as soon as possible. ’’Downer wants to expand the initiative’s scope to increase its community and environmental benefits.

Visit us at www.downergroup.co.nz/


TŪHURA OTAGO MUSEUM - Otago’s most visited institution 
Diwali is one of the colourful celebrations drawing people to Tūhura Otago Museum. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Diwali is one of the colourful celebrations drawing people to Tūhura Otago Museum. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

During the late 1870s, Otago Museum was built in central Dunedin for easy access.

More than a century on, the name has changed but the ethos hasn’t: Tūhura Otago Museum is there for all communities.

‘‘We have the space and the platform to showcase different cultures and projects, so we’ve been actively building relationships with community groups to do as much of that as possible,’’ director Ian Griffin says.In addition to hosting events for Diwali, Wild Dunedin, and the NZ International Science Festival, the museum marks Matariki with a popular dawn ceremony and community breakfast for thousands of guests.

Almost 300,000 people passed through Tūhura Otago Museum’s doors last year, 42,000 of them attending an event. The museum put on a combined total of 205 workshops, lectures and public programmes — more than any other institution in the region.

Staff created education programmes for visiting schools, provided quiet hours for the neurodiverse community, and turned the galleries into a raucous, pyjama-clad adventure for hundreds of children and parents.

The museum’s reach also goes well beyond its own premises. Its outreach team (the country’s largest ) takes its knowledge and resources to schools, libraries, community halls, fairs, and festivals throughout Otago, New Zealand, and the Pacific, often travelling to rural areas.

‘‘We want people to be curious about the world, and comfortable sharing their part of it,’’ Dr Griffin says.

Visit us here otagomuseum.nz/






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