A successful outdoor experience programme run by EIT | Te Pūkenga in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti is now being targeted at full-time workers online who want to gain the skills and knowledge to undertake a wide range of outdoor activities.
The part-time programme was introduced this year and Kris Harris, the programme co-ordinator for the free full-time NZ Certificate in Outdoor Experiences [Level 3], is also the tutor for the online offering. The current online cohort includes an ICU nurse, corrections officers, police recruits and a structural engineer.
“We’ve had the level three programme for the past three years in Hawke’s Bay, and this is the second running of it in Tairāwhiti, and they’ve done really well,” says Kris.
“We’ve now got the online part-time version, so we’re aiming that at people in full-time work so we do the activities around their work schedule, which is pretty cool. So, it’s mostly weekends.”
“We’re on Google Classroom, and then just do some Zooms. For the practical stuff I’ll ask the group, ‘Who’s available for mountain biking?’ And then we take those people up.
Kris says the programme is about trying to break down barriers.
“We’ve just had it written in te reo as well, so that some of our can read it and write it in te reo. That means they are going to get their answers across a bit easier for them, if that’s their first language.”
Doing things like this, she says is especially important after what people have been through during Cyclone Gabrielle.
“I think it’s been really good for people’s mental health, especially just to get out of the region a little bit.”
She says an added bonus for the cohort of students is that EIT | Te Pūkenga was offered ten tickets to Ultimate Athlete, an obstacle course challenge in Tauranga.
“We got 10 tickets, and 10 people from our outdoor course went up and did the Ultimate Athlete as a team, so it was pretty cool.”
Kris says the online programme has been such a success, they will be offering it again in September. With the weather warming up, there will be more water-based activities.
She says the programme is all about giving ākonga (students) a wide range of experience in the outdoors.
Kris says ākonga also learn about risk management and also an understanding of the te ao Māori world.
“Kaitiakitanga [guardianship] is a big part of it, and pūrākau, the Māori myths and legends. They’ve got to learn a myth or a legend about a place that they plan an activity for, and then prior to doing the activity they’ve got to tell us about the legend of that place and its significance.”
Kris says the part-time programme, which is run over 28 weeks, also includes diving, kayaking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, snowboarding and white-water rafting depending on the weather.
She says that Cyclone Gabrielle also gave ākonga an opportunity to step up and help their community.
“We have a group of soldiers on the outdoor course and as part of the clean-up they were stood up. The army reservists did group recces, handing out diesel and food packages, and making sure everyone was all right,” says Kris, who is an Army Reservist and also had a career in the Army as an engineer and physical training instructor.