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Take Action for Water

Take Action for Water

Updated 31 March 2022 3:10pm

Take Action for Water is an innovative and exciting environmental education programme to help primary and intermediate school students (year 5-8) investigate and explore their local environment.

Resources were developed by Greater Wellington Regional Council to help teachers educate young people about the importance of the environment. The Take Action for Water programme aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to make informed environmental decisions in daily life. Students not only learn about environmental issues, they do something about them. Take Action empowers young people to become environmental role models by making a real difference in their schools, families and communities.

Take action for water is a teacher guided programme which consists of comprehensive teaching and learning resources. The programme is hands on, is based on the Guidelines for Environmental Education for New Zealand Schools and is integrated with the curriculum.

Take Action for Water focuses on water catchments and the ecosystems they contain especially freshwater stream ecosystems and water pollution. It investigates the relationships between the living parts of the ecosystem and the impact we have on it. It shows how we can act to reduce our impacts and help to restore the processes and functions of these ecosystems.

Programme overview

Take Action for Water is an in-depth unit of teaching and learning for Year 5 – 8 students. It is an integrated programme of work that is intended to be completed over the course of a term. Take Action for Water reflects both the ‘New Zealand Curriculum’ and the ‘Environmental Education Guidelines for New Zealand Schools’.

The programme structure scaffolds new learning for students. They begin by learning about Native Ecosystems before moving on to understand how Human Impacts have negatively impacted on these ecosystems. The Explore Day then gives students the opportunity to experience first hand both pristine and degraded stream environments. Using their new knowledge and understanding students are then able to Take Action for local biodiversity in meaningful ways.

The different sections of the programme are outlined below:

Teacher Planning

Planning the delivery of the programme is essential. Here is a guide to assist with incorporating Take Action into your term plan. The reading resource list outlines readily accessible texts and reading ages. This will assist with integrating Take Action into your class programme.

The activities build up the knowledge for the next activity so it is best to follow the sequence in the resource book. The posters and photocards that are used in the programme are included in relative sections below.

Planning Resources

Term Plan

Reading Resources

 Native Ecosystems

This first section of Take Action for Water introduces students to the water cycle and the catchment concept, before investigating the native animals that live there. Māori perspectives of water are also discussed through the sharing of stories and concepts such as ‘mauri’ and ‘kaitiaki’. It is important for students to have a sound understanding of how native ecosystems operate before investigating how human activities impact on them.

Click on the links below to access the resources for this section.

Native ecosystems overview

Native ecosystems section 


Water in the Catchment

Pool, Riffle, Run

Animals in the Catchment


Insect features


 Human Impacts

This section of Take Action for Water introduces students to the ways in which human activities impact on the health of our catchments. Throughout this section, students are encouraged to consider how they, as ‘kaitiaki’, might enhance the ‘mauri’ of the environment.

Students participate in a scenario which gives them the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding to solve environmental issues around catchment health and management.

Click on the links below to access resources for this section

Human impacts overview

Human impacts section


Clearwater Catchment







Animal Waste


 Explore Day

The Take Action for Water Explore Day enables students to see first hand the issues that have been presented and discussed in both the Native Ecosystems and Human Impacts sections of the programme.  Classes travel to a native bush site where they explore both the stream and catchment through a series of tests and observations. After lunch students then travel to a second site that may be quite degraded by human activity where they once again test and observe. The contrast between both sites enables students to identify and discuss possible causes and solutions to the issues they have identified. 

Click on the links below to access resources for this section

Explore Day Overview

Explore Day section

 Take Action

Now that your class has investigated and explored its stream, it's time to take action!

This is the most important part of the programme. It’s the opportunity for students to put in to practice all that they have learned by doing something to help local environmental issue.

Students lead a Take Action project which targets environmental issue. After investigating and exploring the issue, students plan and take action to help the catchment and environment. Through evaluation and reflection the students monitor the success and ongoing requirements of their project.

The teacher’s role is to encourage and support student ownership of the project.

Take Action for Water uses the inquiry learning approach to facilitate the Take Action process. There are many different inquiry learning models being followed in schools and many schools are defining their own school model. It is intended that schools will incorporate their own variant of inquiry learning into the take action process.

Click on the links below to access the resources for this section.

Take Action section overview

Take Action section


The Take Action Cycle