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Mana Ora: Students Decarbonising Schools evaluation

Rachel Bolstad

In 2023 Auckland Council’s Sustainable Schools team piloted a project called Mana Ora: Students Decarbonising Schools. This project aimed to empower students, with support, to plan and implement action projects linked to decarbonisation within their schools. The five theme areas below provided project inspiration. 

Eighteen Mana Ora projects were implemented in early childhood, primary, and secondary schools. NZCER was engaged to evaluate the impact of Mana Ora in 13 English-medium settings. A separate process gathered learning from Mana Ora projects in 5 Māori-medium settings.

The evaluation found that Mana Ora largely succeeded in achieving its intended outcomes for students, teachers, and advisors.

  • Many students said it was “empowering” to see ways they could take action on climate change and sustainability issues through making a change in their own school.
  • Many students were able to explain new understandings they had developed about climate change and/or decarbonisation.
  • Many lead teachers said Mana Ora had contributed to their confidence and knowledge to teach about and inspire climate action learning.
  • Advisors said that Mana Ora had helped build their own knowledge and confidence about how to “connect the dots” between school sustainability practices and decarbonisation.

The evaluation also identified opportunities to improve and expand on the foundations laid by Mana Ora.

Direct measurement of the decarbonising impacts of the student projects was outside the scope of the evaluation. However, the evaluation findings align with other studies that demonstrate the benefits of learners having opportunities to engage in climate action projects, including decarbonisation, as a means to build climate knowledge and understanding, a sense of personal connection, and power to make change. Together, these studies indicate that schools can benefit from tackling decarbonisation together, with time and space to share, compare, and learn from one another’s successes and challenges.

The Mana Ora evaluation builds on a 2022 NZCER report for Auckland Council's School carbon footprinting pilot project.

For more about Auckland Council Education for Sustainability: Education for sustainability (

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Research report
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