Two Northland schools and a kindergarten have achieved prestigious Green-Gold status through the national Enviroschools programme, recognising their school/centre-wide approach to sustainability.
Ruawai Kindergarten, Kerikeri's Riverview School and Oruaiti School near Mangonui have all reached Green-Gold in recent months, the first time three Northland Enviroschools have all been recognised with the status within a 12-month period.
The regional council introduced the popular programme to Northland in 2004 and there are now more than 130 schools, kindergartens and early childhood centres in the programme region-wide.
Council chairwoman Penny Smart said becoming a Green-Gold Enviroschool was a significant milestone in a school or centre's sustainability journey.
"At Green-Gold level, an Enviroschool feels like a living ecosystem," she said.
"Learners take the lead in their action and the wider community is supported with skilled gardeners, beekeepers and pest controllers."
Enviroschools recognition comes in three bands, from the most-often-awarded Bronze, through to Silver and the rarest, Green-Gold.
The last Northland Enviroschool to achieve the coveted Green-Gold was Comrie Park Kindergarten in 2018, and the latest recipients bring that number to 10 Enviroschools to have achieved the status Northland-wide.
Ruawai Kindergarten celebrated its Green-Gold status this month and similar celebrations are scheduled for Oruaiti and Riverview schools in August.
Chair Smart acknowledged all the "incredible hard work and time" that went into achieving Green-Gold by the trio and their Enviroschools facilitators from council and Northland Kindergarten Association.
Enviroschools regional co-ordinator Susan Karels said the three Enviroschools' key strengths were an unfailing whole-school/centre dedication to sustainability, evidenced by a wide array of initiatives, from creating kai forests and keeping bees and ducks, to awa and wetland restoration.
All three also worked closely with local tangata whenua to incorporate a Māori world view into their daily operations.
More information on the wider Enviroschools programme in Northland is available from: www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools