In the countryside of Ōakura, Taranaki, lies Green School New Zealand, a pioneering educational campus that fuses innovative practices with a sustainable philosophy to empower students to become purposeful leaders.
The idea for the school was conceived by entrepreneurs Rachel and Michael Perrett, after their children spent a year enrolled at a Green School in Bali.
Rachel says her children were infatuated with the school’s style of teaching, and their entire demeanour regarding education changed for the better.
“All of a sudden, instead of being dragged to school, our kids were jumping in the car in the morning and asking us to hurry up,” Rachel says.
“When school holidays rolled around, they were hanging out to be back at school learning. It was incredible to observe this change and their newfound excitement for learning. It was a mind-blowing experience.
“After two and a half years in Bali, the children said to us ‘We would love to return home to New Zealand, but we love Green School. Why don't we have a Green School in New Zealand?’ That was when the seed was planted, and Michael and I made the decision to establish one.”
The couple worked with Green School Bali to set up the New Zealand expansion and acquired a 126-acre farm in Taranaki where they designed an eco-friendly campus. Green School New Zealand officially opened its doors in 2020.
The school’s curriculum focuses on incorporating elements of project-based learning and experiential education. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and passions while developing their understanding of environmental issues.
“We intrigue the students with things happening in the world and then we enrich their experience by learning about all different aspects to it – science, social, wellbeing, politics, and more,” Rachel says.
“It has totally reshaped the education experience so that it’s about students chasing the learning, which is more inspiring for them and leads to much more fulfilment.”
In 2023, the Perrett’s were exploring ways to attract new students and discovered that New Zealand Story’s FernMark Licence Programme accepts applicants with an educational focus. The pair were impressed by the opportunity and jumped at the chance to join the Programme.
“The FernMark and Green School are a match made in heaven,” Michael says.
“The FernMark encapsulates all the incredible qualities of Aotearoa New Zealand – including Pōtikitanga (ingenuity and adventurous spirit), Manaaki (relationships based on respect, care, and reciprocity) and Tiaki (care for people, place, and planet) – and allows us to showcase them on an international stage.”
A big focus for the Green School is to attract international families and expats back to New Zealand, where they can contribute positively to local communities. Michael says the FernMark is helping them to achieve this through its government backing, which adds to its gravitas and helps organisations like theirs to stand out in the global market.
“We are an international destination school that chose Taranaki as our base for its beauty and learning opportunities. We are so humbled that some families move here specifically for the Green School, and it’s outstanding to see them contribute a plethora of benefits back to our communities – socially, environmentally, and economically,” he says.
Looking forward, Green School New Zealand wants to continue attracting a diverse mix of people to New Zealand and provide them with an authentic experience, filled with nature, Māori culture, and community engagement.
“We believe the FernMark will continue to help drive interest in the Green School from families currently based overseas, especially in the post-COVID environment where there is more openness to alternative education pathways,” Rachel says.
“We are really proud to be providing something that international and local families make a distinct effort to adjust their lives for. We are also attracting successful people back to New Zealand. We want to attract high calibre people and we believe carrying the FernMark will help us achieve this. We feel very fortunate to have it as a stamp of approval.”
To find out more about Green School, visit Green School New Zealand