WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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Te Wānanga Papa Taiao Pāuaua / Earthcare Enterprise Academies

We are setting up and scaling up earthcare enterprise academies across New Zealand. During the course tauira (students) identify local sustainability issues. They imagine and problem-solve potential solutions with community members, entrepreneurs, scientists and mentors. They then design and lead their enterprise with the aim of making positive social, environmental, cultural and economic impacts on their community.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Secondary school tauira are often disempowered by the enormity of the problems facing sustainability and conservation. We hope to solve this problem by giving them opportunity to enact change. Concurrently this will bring fresh innovative solutions to problems facing conservation and the environment. Papa Taiao’s long-term goal is to establish sustainability as a subject in all schools in New Zealand. In this way, industry in sustainability and conservation will grow and become commonplace as it has done in many countries around the world. Papa Taiao aims to show young people that the world’s problems are not too big for them to fix. It aims to educate young people through giving them the enthusiasm to take on and solve issues in conservation.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

Each academy has a facilitator and mentors who support students to plan and resource their innovative products, technologies and services. 

They pick an issue that matters to them and develop their understanding of the concepts underlying sustainability including, interconnectedness of the world, intergenerational equity, responsibility for action, etc. 

One Papa Taiao group from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru organised an event where community members competed to see who could collect the most pyura (invasive marine algae) http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=11913058. 60 participants cleared 458kg of the algae which the students made into bio-fertilizer.

We aim to replicate similar success stories across NZ, with tauira educating their community through action. We want to build confidence so that young people feel empowered to make an impact on issues affecting their local environment. 

What makes your idea new and unique?

Papa Taiao integrates achieving NCEA through the Education For Sustainability Achievement Standard with students creating their own enterprise. 

Our Earthcare Academies invite tauira with varied knowledge of environmental issues. Students without prior knowledge of sustainability are educated and students who are passionate become leaders.

This diverse group structure is achieved by allocating roles depending on the strength of individuals. There are directorships for social, cultural, environmental and financial outcomes.

The goal is that every taiura understands that they must return their investments. This means that enterprises return dividends to the environment, to the community, to the effected cultures and to financial shareholders.

For example the Kaitia College group created an enterprise oyster farming. To ensure environmental/social outcomes they invested some of their income into research on the spawning of kutai in their local fishing areas. 

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

We hope to eventually make Papa Taiao available to senior students in every secondary school in New Zealand. We believe that in a time where technology and innovation have so much potential, we can offer students a creative outlet.

The benefits to senior secondary students include an opportunity to:

  • Imagine and lead meaningful earthcare enterprises
  • Gain authentic ecological restoration and enterprise learning
  • Lead and own a small earthcare enterprise with financial, social, cultural and environmental benefits
  • Contribute and learn about their community
  • Initiate local environmental restoration projects
  • Gain NCEA qualifications at level 2 and level 3. 

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

In 2014 we trialled some ideas in a charter school in Northland. In 2015 we had one Northland Earthcare enterprise academy, by 2016 we had 3 in Northland. In 2017 we have 8 (Northland 4, Wellington 3 and 1 in Raglan). For 2018 we have requests from 3 more regions for at least three more earthcare enterprise.

We would use the money to contribute to the start up of new academies. We hope to refine the program so that schools around the country can eventually integrate Papa Taiao as a subject. By trialling the program in more schools we will continue to expand our idea and access a wider range of taiura.

Some of the money will be used as a seed fund to start student’s enterprise and to support wages for facilitators.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?


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List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

1. A data collective allowing communities to collaborate and share knowledge, leading to better community 
Agile Cloud: because we need a broadbase platform to uplosad information that is transferable between about volunteer and community action for environmental restoration. This tool has that potential.

2. Te Rarawa Noho Taiao: because I have seen it in action and many of our students participate in it.

3. Ur-Bins: I love this idea because so many urban Predator Free Communities I have talked to have identified a need for something like this.

4. Walle-E 2.0: I like the way that the students are designing technology, then refining it. Great project.

5. Squawk Squad: I like that rapid and ongoing feedback loop to funders so that they can see the benefit of their support... and hopefully encouraging funders to keep providing support.

How could you improve your idea?

- Develop more resources that support students to develop their own leadership around idea development as this is very challenging for students.

- Develop training modules so we can take it to other communities. 

- To develop a flat model of cooperatives (kind of like a franchise) that we could work together to share resources with other communities so that they can own and lead their own local projects.

- Keep developing our own enterprises that can fund our delivery and development.



edited on Oct 15, 2017 by Marty Taylor

Hannah Smith Oct 3, 2017

This looks amazing! I really hope you guys get the prize money. If you want to include "Compost bin Rat traps" as a workshop let me know :)


Megan Somerville Oct 4, 2017

Kia ora. Really like how this is very much about youth ownership and leadership. In the blurb above you talked about community members, entrepreneurs, scientists and mentors. Just wondering how you pick these, and in particular how the students work with whanau/hapu/iwi?
How could you share this model so that other communities could benefit from your learnings? and likewise how do current and future students learning from previous projects?

Ngā mihi


Aaron McCloy Oct 6, 2017

Check out our website www.papataiaoearthcare.nz shows a lot of what we do, also that our students set up young enterprise scheme companies.


Jennifer Mcguire Oct 10, 2017

I really like this project because the students are driving it forward - it's a great opportunity to develop some serious skills, confidence building and leadership. Well done guys great job!


Shanay Howard Oct 12, 2017

I was part of this project as a student In Kaitaia College in 2015 and 2016, I have now finished my first year at university doing marine Biology and Geospatial Science. I think this course is a real opportunity and should be offered to as many schools as possible. it opened my eyes to the real would and not just with sustainability and environment but daily business skill, I was taught how to composed formal emails and learnt a lot of essay and report skills that I was unable to do in schooling. This money would be going to a great cause to help with a sustainable future.


Dave West Oct 15, 2017

Kia ora Marty, nice to see an expansion and strengthening of Papa Taiao taiura program. I can vouch for the energy and engagement the Northland taiura showed when helping sample the Waipoua awa. Best of luck, Dave.


Becky Wilson Oct 15, 2017

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone