Nga Puna O Waiorea

Students take big green test

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie – The New Zealand Hearald | Monday May 12, 2008

Western Springs College students Gus Robertson, Rose Philpott, Clare Hannam, Grace Elliott and Arizona-Rose King.

Photo / Paul Estcourt

What high school students think about recycling and the environment will be analysed in a new study by university researchers.

About 1300 staff and students at Western Springs College filled out a questionnaire last week in the first step in a bid to document the development of sustainability programmes in the school.

University of Auckland psychology senior lecturer Niki Harre - also a parent of two of the students and co-ordinator of the school sustainability panel - said the study aimed to discover whether sustainability initiatives were changing attitudes.

"This is pretty new," said Dr Harre.

"A project like ours coming in now, with things the way they are in the wider world, it's going to be a very different project than it would have been five years ago."

Student representative Gus Robertson, 16, said students were aware of environmental issues but the level of interest and image could improve.

Too often recycling had negative connotations because young people were hassled to do it.

The project comes amid a wider push.

The new curriculum names "ecological sustainability" as one of its values alongside the likes of excellence, innovation and curiosity.

Last week, Education Minister Chris Carter launched the first in a new series of DVDs looking at climate change.

The DVD - also unveiled last week at Western Springs College and made by TV3 - was called Sustainability in Action and aims to educate environment and media studies students about the effects of climate change.

It gives students the ability to look at film on climate change issues then compile their own news segment for entry into a competition.

1. What do you think about climate change?
2. How are you trying to reduce your footprint?
3. What's your biggest ecological sin?

Q & A


1. Learning about it as a school is kind of the beginning - and making people realise what's going on.
2. I cycle to school on the pathway and I also buy organic food when I go shopping with my parents, and we buy mostly foods from New Zealand.
3. I eat meat - I'm not a vegetarian - and I have thought about buying a car.


1. It weighs on my mind - you think when you turn on the lights "oh gosh". I try to do as much as I possibly can because what's the future going to be like if things start to go pear-shaped?
2. My family does a lot of recycling with paper and bottles and things like that.
3. Accidentally leaving things switched on - and probably getting driven places when I'm too lazy to walk.


1. We should stop being so lazy because people think about it and think "oh, it's not going to affect me" or "I'm going to die anyway in the end" ... We do need to help stop it for the future generations.
2. Stuff like turning off the lights when I leave the room. I tried to get my parents to get solar panels, but we live in an apartment.
3. The amount of TV I watch.


1. You hear lots about how we are going to have global warming and how everyone needs to pull together and really make a difference by saving power and conserving our environment - it's important.
2. I live very close to my school, so I try to walk as often as I possibly can, to not use as much gas from driving.
3. Probably that I really like having lights on at night, because I don't really like the dark that much.


1. It's a very important issue - it's really important that each individual takes an active role in improving the Earth's situation. It's something that cannot be ignored any longer.
2. Admittedly, I don't really do that much. But small things like turning off lights ... I will try to do more in the future.
3. Long, hot showers.

Thanks to The New Zealand Herald for this article