Provided by the Education Coordinator of TOWN BELT KAITIAKI

Through Town Belt Kaitiaki, the Dunedin Town Belt is the setting for both conservation and education under a partnership involving students, teachers and the community.

Town Belt Kaitiaki (TBK) supports participating Dunedin schools and early childhood centres to use the Dunedin Town Belt as an authentic, real-life context for place-based learning and teaching – e.g. as an outdoor classroom or space for nature play.

Students grow to value and understand the significance of the Town Belt and its mauri (life force) and learn how to sustain and care for our natural environment. TBK helps them to make a positive difference in their local environment and community, as part of their schools’ curriculum.

What can TBK do for you and your school…

  • Help identify and plan projects that will compliment what’s already happening within schools.
  • Connect students and teachers with local experts and educators.
  • Provide teachers with support, resources, and professional development opportunities.
  • Facilitate collaborative project opportunities across partner schools and community groups.

The TBK education and conservation programme uses the collaborative community education model (CCEM) for conservation, based on the successful Kids Restore the Kepler and Kids Greening Taupo projects. A distinctive feature of this education model is that it focuses on a particular community project, building community knowledge and engagement for this project year after year.

The Dunedin Town Belt is a good fit for the CCEM approach: around 30 schools and early childhood education centres are situated within one kilometre of this historic reserve that greens more than 200 hectares of the central city.

The Collaborative Communities Education Model

A student leadership team, composed of students from TBK’s participating schools, has developed a vision for the Town Belt and has embarked on a number of student-led projects ranging from advocacy of the Town Belt, improving recreation opportunities, planting trees and weeding, monitoring wildlife and predator trapping.

Student Leadership Programme

The Student Leadership Team (SLT) consists of 1 – 4 student representatives from each of TBK’s participating schools. Together they set the vision and goals for what they want schools to achieve in the Town Belt.Through this role, the student leaders gain leadership/governance skills and experience, and have the opportunity to lead TBK’s development from a youth perspective.

Leader Selection Criteria 

Any students (Yr 6 – Yr 13) are eligible to join the Student Leadership Team (SLT) and can apply betweenWeek 1 and Week 4 of Term 1 (maximum of 3 students per primary school and 4 students per intermediate and secondary school). Selection will be made by each participating school’s appointed TBK Link Teacher(s), with returning / transferring students given first priority.

Potential student leaders are not just those who are environmentally committed but also young people who simply want to make the Town Belt a better place and/or are looking for a way to develop their leadership potential. There are roles for a range of skills including those who are interested in the outdoors, technical stuff, communication, the arts or academia. Introverts, extroverts, talkers, doers, thinkers, achievers and potential achievers are all encouraged to apply.

TBK’s development, coordination and leadership are delivered through the following individuals / groups: 

  • The Student Leadership Team – consisting of student representatives from participating schools who act as ambassadors for the programme, share a vision and goals for the Town Belt and lead by example.
  • The Strategic Leadership Group – consisting of representatives from community organisations, including the Dunedin Amenities Society.
  • The Education Coordinator – who acts as a supporter, networker, and connector between all partnering groups and schools.

The Student Leadership Team have their own ‘role model site’ – a patch of Robin Hood Park within the Town Belt that they have adopted for regular on-going improvement, monitoring and outdoor education.

Bush Kindy” Town Belt Kaitiaki are proud to have helped some early childhood centres in Dunedin start ‘Bush Kindy’ activities in the Town Belt. Through ‘bush kindy’ young tamariki connect with nature and the outdoors through unstructured play and experiential learning – aided by gumboots, overalls and mud proof raincoats! Their kaiako and volunteer parents are passionate about developing their childrens’ capabilities and care for the natural world.

Many thanks to the Dunedin Amenities Society for the valuable support and guidance they provide to this programme.

To find out more about Town Belt Kaitiaki and CCEM, go to

To find out how to enrol your early childhood centre or school with TBK, or to volunteer with us, please contact TBK’s Education Coordinator at

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