A well-known nature champion hopes to get Hawke's Bay students and teachers back to nature.

Ruud Kleinpaste is the ambassador for the Cape to City ecological restoration project, and is leading the education part of the programme with the Department of Conservation's education programme co-ordinator Robyn McCool.

The five-year, $6 million project aims to teach the teachers and inspire, encourage and equip them to reconnect students with nature - in partnership with Hawke's Bay Regional Council, DoC, Cape Sanctuary, Landcare Research, various landowners and businesses as well as iwi and hapu.

Mr Kleinpaste, TV's 'Bugman' said the course aimed to encourage creative hands-on education using the environment as a context for learning across the curriculum.


"Nature is one of the best learning environments we have. It's cheap, as there's no need for a physical classroom and all the materials are free: such as spiders and birds.

"We can cover off numeracy, literacy, science, social studies among others using nature as the education source from Year 1 onward. Art is another, obvious topic."

The plan is to involve six schools each year, in student or teacher programmes.

Ms McCool is working with EIT Hawke's Bay on integrating nature-time teaching principles into the curriculum for Year 2 and 3 candidate teachers. In a 2014 education pilot, more than 150 students from Port Ahuriri, Haumoana and St Patrick's Schools headed outdoors to learn about the role of trees, birds and insects.

Cape to City's sister programme, Poutiri Ao o Tane, worked with classes from Flaxmere School, TKKM o te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu and Hastings Intermediate last year doing the same.

Organisers hope the programme will be adopted by all schools within the Cape to City catchment area as well as other regions.