Connect, Me Whakawhanaunga
Connecting with nature is great for you! The beauty is in how simple it can be. Remember if you can’t get outside, you can always bring the outdoors in.
- Go barefoot and feel the grass or sand beneath your feet.
- Cloud gaze – what shapes can you see? Notice how quickly the sky moves around you and how beautiful the fresh air is.
- Walk in nature with a friend.
- Bird watch.
- Find a nature photo online and make it your computer background.
- Organise a class/work/family picnic in your local park.
- Use natural material to make art – think seaweed, shell, sand and flowers.
- Create a green space in your school, office or home with indoor plants. If you’re the competitive type, you could instigate a green space competition.
- Trek to ngahere; korero karakia with tangaroa and your maunga. (Talk and pray with your god and your mountain).
- Bathe in the mauri ora (life spirit) of our natural environment that gives us its own wonderful oranga (health, welfare etc).
Nature provides, it gives everything needed to not only survive, but thrive. Here’s some cool ways you can give back to nature:
- Volunteer at an organised beach clean-up or do your own. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and keep Aotearoa beautiful! Here's some tips on how to go about organising one.
- Volunteer for DOC, or another nature-related charity close to your heart.
- Plant trees – there’s tonnes of opportunities to join tree planting days across New Zealand, a simple Google search will reveal one closest to you.
- Challenge yourself to produce less waste. It’s amazing to see how much you use each day that isn’t necessary! Here's some ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Use public transport more often, or start carpooling days with your co-workers/neighbours.
- Offer to help a neighbour out with some gardening or other outside chores, eg, mow their lawns or water their plants.
- Give the birds something to sing about and make a pinecone bird feeder.
It's common to go about your daily life, oblivious to your natural environment. Take some time to be mindful of what’s happening around you.
- Take notice of the night sky. Be aware of what phase the moon is in and how the visible constellations change throughout the year.
- Go somewhere you’ve always been meaning to visit in your local area.
- Collect and measure the rainfall in your garden and keep a diary of the weather you notice each day.
- Choose a square of earth in the garden to explore with a magnifying glass. Perhaps you could create a scrapbook about what you find.
- Go for a bush walk with your camera and photograph until your heart’s content while taking the time to really notice what you are photographing.
- Create a photo diary of a favourite place, plant, animal or tree.
- Make a sundial and learn how to tell time with it.
- Take a selfie with the different manu (birds) in your area.
- Take the New Zealand garden bird survey.
There’s always something new to learn and discover when you interact with nature:
- Learn how the natural environment can help heal you – what natural resources have you got in your backyard that could be used for medicinal or edible purposes?
- Take a trip to the zoo and learn about the animals and their habitats.
- Learn about local flora and fauna. Go on a bush walk and try to identify the different animal and plant species you see.
- Download this handy backyard treasure hunt chart and see what can be found.
- Create a worm farm in your backyard.
- Visit the observatory or learn about the constellations.
- Consider volunteering for DOC, Forest and Bird, Project Jonah, Coastguard, SPCA or another nature related cause where you can learn new skills and immerse yourself in nature.
Getting outside exposure and exercising is good for your overall health and wellbeing, plus it strengthens you connection with nature:
- Climb your maunga or swim in your awa or moana. (Climb your mountain and swim in the rivers and sea).
- Try tai chi classes for strength, balance and mental wellbeing.
- Bring activity into the everyday, eg, use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to colleagues to talk with them instead of phoning, and get off the bus one stop earlier than your stop.
- Take a family walk after dinner, or a longer one on the weekend. Let family members take turns to choose where to go.
- Start a walking school bus for kids in your area.
- Join a sports club to be active and meet people at the same time – tennis, bowls, touch rugby, netball, there is so much to choose from!
- Design a treasure hunt or fun challenges to get to a mystery nature rich destination for your friends, family or workmates.