Impact Report 2020-2021

Chairperson’s Report

The past year has presented the world with so many unexpected challenges, with Covid at the centre of many of these challenges.  Our POET schools, like us all, have been forced to operate in an environment of fear, constantly changing rules and guidelines, sudden adaptation of plans, social distancing, isolation and a new way of doing things including teaching and learning remotely online.


All of us at POET are proud of the way our schools have responded.  They very quickly recognised that now more than ever getting out in nature with their peers is a vital tool for keeping our young people healthy.  This year POET doubled the number of days of support we have provided our schools in terms of programme development, mentoring, training and logistical support. We have added two schools to our stable, have increased the number of camps, and increased professional development, all despite Covid restrictions.


Our schools have stepped up to the plate, reacting decisively when needed.  Camps had to be rescheduled and occasionally shortened, but only one camp was cancelled due to Covid.  That meant a lot more work for teachers and our POET staff too, but they never lost sight of the goal. They ensured these events happened so that our young people didn’t miss out on even more than they already had this year.


Hats off to all of our schools, and to Karen, Donald, Brian and more recently Sophie for not rolling over for Covid.  We love your “can do“ attitude!


This year has definitely not just been about putting out Covid fires. In October last year we farewelled Donald who left us to follow his passion for the environment, taking up a role as a community and iwi planner for DOC.  Thank you Donald for all your hard work, your great ideas and your commitment to our youth.


We appointed Sophie Milne from a strong field of 50 applicants to replace Donald.  Sophie has a strong academic and teaching background to go with her experience in and passion for outdoor education.  She also brings a friendly, open manner which has been embraced by both staff and schools alike.  Sophie started in January this year and is very quickly making an impact.


We have continued to strengthen and broaden relationships in our community.  Brian has continued to teach the Year 12 Gateway class weekly at Wintec, while both he and Sophie have continued to upskill with Skills Active EOTC qualifications.  Karen is taking part in an 8 month Community and Enterprise Leadership Foundation development programme.


Once again we hosted the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in Hamilton.  Despite Covid forcing a delay, we were thrilled to host 266 guests in September, raising funds to support our programmes and inspiring us all to get out there and active.


A highlight for POET this year has been our involvement with the Te Toki Voyaging Trust at Kawhia.  Several of our schools have been lucky enough to experience time on the waka at Kawhia, learning traditional sailing and navigation skills and developing team work.


Yes, 2020 -21 has brought us many trials, but POET, and our POET schools have responded nimbly, and continued to positively influence the lives of over 1500 students this year through quality outdoor experiences. Thank you to Karen, Brian, Donald/ Sophie, and to my passionate and responsive Board; Craig, Mike, Emma, Vicky and Rob.  No doubt 2021/22 will throw more challenges at us, but bring it on!  We are ready!!


Marlene Julian
Chairperson POET

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