Field Centre - home base

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 hills of the Coromandel Peninsula

EcoQuest has established a vibrant sustainable learning community. Programs are residential, and students as well as 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. There is on-site accommodation for 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).

Our Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program is based in Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island.  The program starts and finishes at the same site in the Tasman Region. The region is characterised by small rural-coastal communities and diverse agricultural industries. Accomodation is in cabins, and there are communal eating and classroom spaces. Students participate in food preparation and gardening. There is plenty of room to learn and play, with access to the beach never far away. 

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.

Cabins at the field centre
Students on the front deck by the classroom
Students enjoy hammocks outside grannies.
A view from Whakatiwai across the Firth of Thames

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