A Northland school has swept aside rules banning children from climbing trees and has let its pupils get off the ground.

Teachers at Onerahi Primary School decided that the students could learn from being among the branches and found a way to make it happen.

Deputy principal Danny Hamilton said: "Some of our children find being in a tree quite soothing and a way to quickly regulate their emotions. We all agreed that the key to having kids climb trees again was that this would be a learning opportunity.

"When you climb a tree, it is an act of care. Your goal is to look after yourself and the tree."


For the Whangārei youngsters, Hamilton said the act of climbing was about challenging themselves, understanding consequences and being safe. So there still are tree rules. The pupils learn which playground trees are safe to climb and to stick to branches thicker than their arms.

There is a bigger picture too.

Said Hamilton: "Being able to predict what's going to happen and make safe choices is at the heart of being able to minimise risk for yourself.

"It's not about removing risk completely from our children's lives but supporting them to develop the skills they will need for the rest of their lives, skills that will help them to be happy, healthy and successful in whatever they set their mind to."