Te Wānanga Taiao

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)

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."

Claire Mathews

Claire Mathews

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."

Emily Court

Emily Court

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.”

Tracey Collis

Tracey Collis

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!

Find out how here.

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



Te Wananga Taiao Pukaha Rendering

Funding Target

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.




Latest News

JULY 2022
JULY 2022

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


APRIL 2022
Te Waananga Taiao environmental education centre at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre
APRIL 2022

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.

JAN 2022
Waananga 190122 LO RES 5934
JAN 2022

$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👏!

DEC 2021
Te Waananga Te Taio
DEC 2021

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).

OCT 2021
OCT 2021

$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.

Sep 2020
Sponsor A Hectare Pukaha Wildlife Centre No Birds
Sep 2020

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.

May 2021
May 2021

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.

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