Orientation Aotearoa: Pioneering Holistic Education in New Zealand
Orientation Aotearoa is a nonprofit that runs a residential 8-month holistic education program targeting young New Zealanders. Its mission is to create a collaborative and experiential learning environment for young people between the ages of 18 and 25 to develop their identity, find a greater sense of purpose, and learn new skills and talents.
“Orientation Aotearoa is founded on the belief that every person has unique talents and gifts to bring to the world.” - About Orientation Aotearoa
The program immerses students to engage with local and global challenges, learning from leading professionals and change-makers from around New Zealand who will be running short courses across a wide range of topics. Students are exposed to problems local and global societies face, including climate change, ecological degradation, health, inequality, and unemployment. With a focus on developing solutions, the students then lead self-directed individual and group projects, where they develop teamwork, leadership, and project management skills.
Students also do internships at local organizations, participate in volunteer services in local communities, and spend time outdoors learning about regenerative agriculture and environmental stewardship. A large part of the experiential learning is anchored in a Permaculture Design Certificate course.
Learning environments designed around students’ unique passions and learning styles are increasingly producing more well-rounded individuals. Rather than attempting to fit students into standardized educational paths, holistic education models celebrate the unique talents and gifts each student brings to the classroom. Such models are oriented to help students be the best versions of themselves, learn from one another, and become active contributors to society. They instill a spirit of active learning, exploration, and meaning by integrating the classroom discussions with the world around them.
By letting students’ passions drive the learning experience, students are offered the freedom to learn about themselves, and develop a greater sense of identity while immersing in their surroundings. They learn to question, inquire, and imagine – these have been the key ingredients that lead human progress and innovation.
Holistic education models are becoming increasingly popular around the world, and pioneers such as Muse School, Solutionary School, Swaraj University, and the International Youth Initiative Program are experimenting with unique ways of designing learning experiences. The Namaste Foundation is thrilled to be supporting the establishment of Orientation Aotearoa and the team pioneering this model in New Zealand.
Through such support and other initiatives, we actively encourage greater sharing of lessons and best practices between such pioneers from around the world, further experimentation with new educational models to explore their full potential, and promote wider adoption of proven models across different geographies.