I grew up surrounded by the mighty kauri trees and native bush on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland. I spent hours of my childhood exploring the bush and streams in our local area and away camping. We would climb trees, make huts, create mud pies, and find special spaces that we would name. My grandmother was an avid lover of the natural world. One day when I was in my primary school years, she took my sister and I up to the newly built Arataki Visitor's Centre in the Waitakere Ranges. We looked out over the bush and she asked a very simple question, “How many shades of green can you count?” Excitedly we started counting but soon realised there were so many it was impossible to do. I’ve never forgotten this small question which sparked curiosity in me about the diversity of plants in the forest.
Years later, my inner love of nature re-emerged and I was drawn into outdoor education through a course that combined outdoor instruction, youth work and my Christian faith. From this, I worked in school and community-based outdoor education with a huge diversity of people from many walks of life. Time and time again I saw people, many of who were facing significant challenges, find belonging, and hope, and personally grow through being outside in nature alongside other people. Once my children were born, I began to understand how foundational the early years of a person’s life are, and the enormous value of play and hands-on learning. This led me to gain my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning in early childhood education.
The impact of spending so much time outside continued to influence my own journey too. Over the years, my understanding of humans being part of nature and our need to care for the world we live in, and the people who live alongside us, has grown deeper and deeper in me. Everything is interconnected, physically and spiritually. Everything we do creates a ripple effect. So for me, working at Bush Farm is a choice to create ripples. Supporting children to grow more connected to the world around them, and giving them meaningful opportunities to learn in a way that engages every part of their being. To grow connections to self, to others, and the natural world. Through this, they are empowered to create their own ripples and be people of influence that care deeply.