About the Hillary Outdoors Sustainability Charter

In recognition of the need to re-focus on social and environmental sustainability, a Sustainability Charter was put in place at Hillary Outdoors in February 2017. The collaborative process of putting the charter together between the staff, trustees and stakeholders throughout 2016 involved identifying areas that we have a social and environmental responsibility to address.

The charter is aligned with our core values of Integrity, Teamwork, Engagement, Adventure and Kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection). These values reflect our proven approach to outdoor education which is to develop the individual and then the team, then engage them in adventure in order to inspire them to enjoy the wilderness. This formal document aims to remind us of our obligation to consider future generations by caring for the land through Kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the land). By also considering the cultural values of Manaakitanga (people care) and Whanaungatanga (kinship through shared experiences) we have woven cross-cultural values into the charter.

Hillary Outdoors Tertiary Environmental WeekThe charter forms a formal, ethical foundation to build on. It’s not prescriptive in terms of solutions but rather describes a way of implementing the concept of sustainability (balancing economic, social and environmental progress) throughout the whole of the organisation.
The charter addresses how it is relevant to different roles in the organisation; from how the trust can govern and how management can manage, through to how instructors can educate programme participants through demonstrating and teaching sustainability.


Pictured above: tertiary students on environmental week. Trapping, and firewood collection for Blue Duck Station at Whakahoro

How our instructors are bringing the charter to life in their role educating programme participants…

Hillary Outdoors staff have a of history progressive thinking around environmental concerns. In the 1980’s staff challenged the milling of native trees around the Tongariro Centre by taking a petition to parliament. This action resulted in successfully stopping the NZ forest service cutting down the trees in question. Since then, staff have been teaching students about the Tongariro power scheme and the need to balance the social needs for electricity with ecological needs downstream of the intake structures near the Tongariro Centre. Our Great Barrier Island Centre also embraces teaching environmental awareness in programmes via activities such as freshwater ecology studies and shoreline rubbish collection.

The New Zealand curriculum has emphasis on ‘how’ rather than ‘what’ to learn. At Hillary Outdoors we believe it’s more important that students gain ability in ecological literacy rather than environmental awareness. That means understanding relationship concepts within an ecology, system, community, or organisation rather than having memory recall of a particular species, fact, person or event. When students understand the flow on effects of actions and relationships, they can evaluate positive and negative flows within systems. And when we role-model and discuss sustainable systems with them, we begin to show them how to design and create sustainable systems and communities in the future.

We can’t change the world, but we can each take small steps to live more sustainably as well as engage in the global discussion of how we can leave our world in a better state to allow future generations to prosper. Hillary Outdoors is proud to be implementing our Sustainability Charter as an inherent part of our organisational purpose; “Youth Learning Through Adventure”.