Our family moved from Bend, Oregon in the U.S. to Motueka, New Zealand in September 2017. In the U.S., our 13-year-old daughter, Alexandra, was homeschooled initially and then attended the Waldorf School of Bend. When we moved to New Zealand, Alexandra enrolled in the Motueka Steiner School; she truly loves the school and says it has been “the best experience of my life”.
My husband, Chris, and I balance homeschooling our 5-year-old daughter, Charlotte, with work – me as a part-time occupational therapist and he as manager of a small book publishing company. We were thrilled to get our New Zealand residency in May 2018 and are so happy with our new life here. There are gorgeous beaches and nature reserves close by and the people in the small town of Motueka are so friendly. We ride our bikes everywhere. This really increases our quality of life and enables us to connect with people in the neighborhood when we stop and say hi.
NICHE Tribe (Nature Immersion Cooperative for Home Educators) on Steiner Farm Land in Motueka, New Zealand
The Motueka Steiner School on the South Island of New Zealand has graciously agreed to let the local homeschool community use their farm land once a week for a new outdoor, play-based programme for homeschool families with children of all ages. The NICHE Tribe (Nature Immersion Cooperative for Home Educators) will be a parent cooperative, whereby parents rotate co-supervising the weekly gathering. The multi-age group of children will be encouraged to explore and play the 13-hectare Steiner farm with minimal adult intervention, as per the wonderful book Free to Learn by Peter Gray. The idea is that, just as in a traditional tribe, adults will cook (in the outdoor kitchen), sing, play instruments, and talk while the kids freely play with each other in nature.
I was inspired to start the NICHE Tribe after visiting the Deep Green Bush School (www.deepgreenbushschool.org) in Auckland, a full nature immersion program in which children spend five days a week outside in the bush learning and playing together. The Motueka Steiner School is currently in downtown Motueka, but their intent is to move the school to the beautiful farmland that was donated to them, a project which will likely take several years. In the meantime, the Motueka Steiner School has indicated that they are happy to have the land used for the enjoyment of children in the community.