Youth add fresh voices to Ellesmere debate

News News & events

24 May 2016

Waterwise testing water quality at Whitecliffs Domain Waterwise testing water quality at Whitecliffs Domain.

Canterbury youth have added their voices to the debate about reversing the decline of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, following an intensive week of studying the complex issues of water use from different perspectives as part of the Waterwise programme.

To understand competing viewpoints, the secondary school students, from eight Canterbury schools, attended environmental presentations at Lincoln University, visited farms, took water samples from streams, assisted the Department of Conservation with restoration projects, learned about the cultural importance of water resources, heard from activists and youth leaders and much more.

"I loved the variety of views we were provided with, from which we were able to formulate our own understandings of situations," Christchurch Rudolf Steiner student Renata Lorincz-Konya said. "The week left me feeling passionate to make a change in the world, and not just to do with water... It also left me with the realisation that there are many sides to one story and to truly be able to understand it, you need to be able listen to all these sides with an open and compassionate mind before any conclusions can be drawn."

Ara Institute of Canterbury students facilitated the programme, which is a joint venture between Untouched World Charitable Trust (Peri Drysdale – Chair), UNESCO Global Action Programme (Paris), Environment Canterbury (ECAN), The Rata Foundation, Te Rūnunga o Ngāi Tahu, The Clinton Global Initiative, Ara and the University of Canterbury.

The group stayed at Ngati Moki Marae at Taumutu, close to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, from 15-20 May.

The Untouched World Charitable Trust (UWCT) programmes enable youth to become leaders in sustainability and have been running since 2001. They were recently acknowledged by UNESCO as a model of quality learning and teaching for sustainable development at the international level. Each UWCT Scholarship certificate will include the UNESCO Global Action Programme logo acknowledging the programmes international commitment to Education for Sustainable Development.

The students presented their ideas to an audience including representatives from Ngāi Tahu, ECAN, The Rata Foundation, Ara, each of the schools, Untouched World and other interested parties on Friday 20 May at Te Puna Wanaka, Ara City Campus, Madras St Christchurch.