The Ecology in Action program is based at our Field Centre on the western shore of Tikapa Moana the Firth of Thames, in the small rural coastal settlement of Whakatīwai (one hour southeast of Auckland), in the rohe (tribal territory) of Ngāti Paoa & Ngāti Whanaunga, just 300 metres south of the Wharekawa Marae.
The field centre is bordered by the Whakatīwai stream to the north, and the Hūnua ranges form the backdrop to the west. We look east across the Firth, a shallow marine embayment, to the rugged hills of the Coromandel Peninsula
The home base for the South Island SAFSA program is in Golden Bay at The Sandcastle in Pohara, in the rohe of Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa and close to Onetahua marae. From here it is just a 500m walk to the sandy beach of Te Tai-o-Aorere Tasman Bay.
EcoQuest has established a vibrant sustainable learning community. Since programs are residential, students and some staff live on site.
Student accommodation is in cabins with 2-3 students per cabin and there are shared bathroom facilities. A separate house provides a student lounge and several rooms for study spaces.The wharekai (literally the eating house) is our main communal building which doubles as a classroom and dining room. This building is situated to make the most of the open space and sun, and students often spend time outside on the large deck. The gardens provide lots of room for play, lounging in hammocks, and for growing vegetables and fruit. Students have access to internet facilities (please note EcoQuest is in a rural area where the capacity of these services is limited at times) and to designated student phones. There is on-site accommodation for some staff and visiting faculty.
The field centre is a microcosm of decision making, as well as understanding and modelling sustainability. Students are involved in growing food, maintaining the plantings (food for people, food for native species, biodiversity values, amenity values).All chores are shared (e.g. cooking, cleaning, caring for the grounds and equipment).
Students are an active part of a learning community where sustainability is a guiding principle. They are empowered to become catalysts for change and for sustainable living.