Te Wānanga Taiao
This is Pūkaha’s visionary project to create an Environmental Education Centre to inform people about their natural world.
Through education it is hoped to change the way people think and act. By doing so we hope to influence the outcomes for native wildlife and our natural environment.
The ultimate goal of Te Wānanga Taiao is to help all New Zealanders see the value in protecting and ensuring Aotearoa’s native flora and fauna for future generations to enjoy.
We can’t do it alone. We will need some help, and we hope you’ll come join us on the journey.
About Te Wānanga Taiao
What is it?
Te Wānanga Taiao will accommodate groups of up to 40 people including schools, community and business organisations.
The wharenui is a place of ceremony, of meeting and of learning, that can also be used for overnight stays.
A commercial kitchen and beautiful dining area will seat 100 people and be used as a lounge with a log fire in the evenings.
Educational programmes, courses and research projects will also be run from the centre that will focus on deepening our connections and understandings with nature.
Te Wānanga Taiao will enable visitor groups from all walks of life to come and stay at the Reserve overnight and to experience the native forest at dawn and dusk when it really comes alive.
Why are we doing this?
The health of our natural environment and wildlife is a strong indicator of the health of our wider environment. New Zealand’s economy depends on the environment, so wise management of our environment is essential – by us and future generations.
In order to have a rich, vibrant and diverse natural world in the future, we need to look after the one we have today. Our best chance of doing that is by creating greater awareness through Education. The more people who can see, understand and acknowledge the importance of nature and its role, the more it can be cherished, protected, and shared with future generations. That requires education.
Nature can inspire learning across all areas of the curriculum and our teachers need the resources, support and opportunity to make this a reality. With around 115,000 school students within a two hour drive of the reserve the potential impact of the new programmes is enormous. This is a game changer for Pūkaha and for environmental education in the Lower North Island.
What are people saying?
Dr Ruud Kleinpaste (AKA The Bugman)
Ambassador, Te Wānanga Taiao
"It's become quite obvious that we humans have been on a path of disconnect with nature. Now it is time to re-connect. In terms of Education, let's explore the lessons Nature can teach us to live on our planet with grace, elegance and understanding. Let's see if we can become a "welcome species" again and learn from Nature, in Nature. In my opinion, Pūkaha can be the best outdoor classroom in Aotearoa New Zealand."
Board Co-Chair and Member, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
"Pūkaha is a treasure for all of Aotearoa and it is an honour to be a part of the organisation at such an important time in its history. As a community we have the opportunity to create a very significant legacy for many generations to come, I encourage all locals to get in behind this ambitious project."
General Manager, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
"Pūkaha is making a major investment in the expansion of its education programmes to increase its reach to a greater number of schools. This includes new interactive learning programmes for students at Pūkaha and in the classroom as well as providing support for teaching staff. Te Wānanga Taiao is more than just a building. It incorporates the development and delivery of environmental education programmes and is a place of special significance to Rangitāne. It will be adorned with carvings currently being completed by a team of Rangitāne carvers who are based at Pūkaha.”
Tararua District Mayor
"Te Wānanga Taiao will be an exciting and valuable addition to Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. It provides a unique cultural visitor experience to the Tararua District and adds to the pride and aroha we already have for Pūkaha. We are excited to share the benefits to the community that Te Wānanga Taiao will bring as an educational and accommodation centre. The future opportunities are truly exciting."
How can you help?
We have attracted massive financial support in grants and loans. $2.5 million has come from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund and the Tararua District Council have generously offered us a $1 million loan. We are now fundraising for the final amount and we need your help!
Help Secure Tomorrow’s Future
Pūkaha is one of New Zealand’s best-equipped Outdoor Classrooms and a national treasure that should be nurtured for the benefit of future generations and Aotearoa’s environmental future.
Pūkaha’s goal is to offer unique learning experiences that are sympathetic to the natural environment and its inhabitants, that educate and inspire New Zealanders to be guardians of our environment and that reconnect us all with the mauri (life force) of the forest.
Please contact us to explore the exciting ways you can support Te Wānanga Taiao:
[email protected] or call (06) 375 8004
Thank you to the many people, businesses and supporters from within the community that have contributed to date. We are so grateful for your support.
He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.
Apprentice impresses with engineering skills while working on Wānanga
JULY 2022: Kanesha Waldron, an engineering apprentice, fabricated and welded floor bearers for the Wānanga project.
Read about her engineering mahi and connection to Pūkaha … here …
Roof and walls go up
During April and May 2022 the roof and walls were quickly erected taking advantage of the sunny Autumn days.
The LVL framing has been part funded by JNL.
The dedication of Masterton-based Quality Builders has been outstanding throughout the project.
$50,000 worth of J-Frame Lumber from JNL
Juken New Zealand LTD generously support the Wānanga project by donating $50,000 worth of J-FRAME Structural Laminated Veneer Lumber.
Nga mihi JNL👏!
Framing has commenced and the rooms are starting to take shape.
It’s really exciting to start to see how students could experience the space, in the ngahere (forest).
$1 million loan secured from Tararua District Council
Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis gives the project a huge boost, signing a $1 million loan agreement with Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre at a contract signing ceremony.
Site preparation begins
Boots on the ground work for Te Wananga Taiao begins. The land is cleared of scrub. The old workshop and storage sheds are removed. The site is leveled and made ready for building to commence.
PGF Funding success!
Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announces Pūkaha’s successful Provincial Growth Fund application of $2.5 million, signalling the green light for the $5 million development project.