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EIT shortlisted for prestigious sustainability awards for second time

August 23, 2021

EIT Level 3 Horticulture General students undertaking some planting of native trees and shrubs at the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre (OOLC) on the Hawke’s Bay Campus. The OOLC is part of the Learning in Nature project, which has seen EIT being made a finalist in the prestigious Green Gown Awards.

EIT is, for the second year in a row, a finalist in the prestigious Green Gown Awards, run by the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS).

One of only two of the country’s tertiary institutions to make it through to the final round of judging, EIT has been shortlisted in the Benefitting Society category for its community-focused Learning in Nature (LIN) project. The awards are open to all Australasian tertiary institutions and recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives.

EIT’s entry last year described the development of the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre (OOLC) on the Hawke’s Bay Campus and related activities, enabling Learning in Nature (LIN) within an immersive mindspace.

This year’s entry  “Ko au te taiao, ko te taiao ko au: I am nature, nature is me” describes the project’s increased community reach and how it enhances lives by connecting people with nature and cultural heritage, whilst supporting the connection of schools with their own local environment. LIN has developed through research and regional engagement with educators and learners at EIT and through communities of practice. It has advanced teacher ability to embed nature literacy and sustainability values  within the region’s educational culture from early childhood to post-graduate level teaching.

 The LIN project is an innovative collaboration between EIT, Ngāti Pārau, the mana whenua hapū for Ōtātara and EIT, central and local government agencies (Te Papa Atawhai /Department of Conservation, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council), and local environmental groups that include Predator Free HB, and EnviroSchools.

Professor Natalie Waran, EIT’s Executive Dean and Professor (One Welfare) , welcomed the news, saying that to be a finalist a second time was a great honour for all involved, recognising the significance of the project in educating future generations of New Zealanders about sustainability. .

“What is particularly pleasing is that this is community collaboration at its best and we are grateful to have Ngāti Pārau and the other groups as partners, as well as to receive support from National bodies such as the Air New Zealand Environment Trust and the Pan Pac Environmental Trust, as well as EIT.”

“What started out as an environmental education initiative has extended to greater campus engagement through initiatives that includes the employment of an Environment and Sustainability outreach team, a waste minimisation awareness project, a campus bioblitz involving our students, and a commitment to working towards eliminating single-use plastic bottles on campus.”

EIT’s Environment and Sustainability Manager Emma Passey says the achievement is  reward for the inspired work done by all those involved.

“EIT, along with our partners, is showing its commitment to not only practising sustainability, but also spreading this important message in our communities.”

The winners of the different categories will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on the 18th of November this year. For a list of all finalists, see https://ggaa.acts.asn.au/2021awards/#org.