Sustain our land, community and heritage

Unitec’s sustainability goals regarding our land, community and heritage, are guided by Te Noho Kotahitanga principles and recognising our collective responsibility for the future of Unitec and the wellbeing of our communities. 


Sustaining our land, community and heritage involves three key goals:

  • Unitec aims to restore and enhance an ecosystem that meets Unitec’s biodiversity, soil, water and air quality targets.   
  • To encourage our staff, students, iwi, tangata whenua, pasifika and international students to draw on the richness of their cultures and diversity and share environmental solutions.  
  • To partner with others in the celebration of Unitec Mt Albert campus history, including the Pa Harakeke, Wairaka Puna, Sanctuary Mahi Gardens and heritage buildings. 


Sustainability showcase: Sanctuary Mahi Whenua Supported Learning Internships  

Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is a lush community garden and food forest, alongside Unitec’s Mt Albert campus. Home to more than 400 species of plants and trees, the garden is a beautiful space to explore. It is a valuable teaching space where rare plants are grown, traditional Maori cultivation methods are practiced. 

Over the years, hundreds of Unitec staff, students and community members have learnt about growing food. In 2021 Unitec student Denham Speers learned garden skills as part of a Supported Learning internship facilitated by the Unitec Sustainability and Wellbeing Team.   

Denham was enrolled in Unitec’s New Zealand Certificate for Skills in Living and Working programme. During a six-week work placement, he worked for several hours a week with the guidance of garden treasurer and coordinator Trevor Crosby. 

Denham gained confidence and learnt practical skills, including travelling independently and bringing gear using a visual checklist created by his lecturer Utkarsh Sanjanwala. Denham especially enjoyed shovelling wheelbarrow loads of mulch onto the garden’s paths. “I can use my muscles” he said. “I can do a gardening job. See what I have done.” 

Trevor says, “It is great to see the increased confidence and independence that Denham now demonstrates in mulching paths. Not only is the Sanctuary helped by Denham efforts – Denham’s education is helped by the Sanctuary environment.” 

Past project: Manaaki Whenua Working Bee

A Manaaki Whenua Working Bee was held in July 2020, during the Matariki season of celebrations. This gathering was an opportunity for Unitec Te Whare Wananga o Wairaka whānau to support our own wellbeing through connection to the whenua (land). By helping to take care of our wāhi tapu, our sacred spaces here on campus, whanau can also learn about Te Waiunuroa o Wairaka (the natural spring named after Wairaka), rongoā Māori (medicinal plants including harakeke) and the biodiversity which the healing waters of Wairaka sustain. 

See here for more information.

If our land, community and heritage is an area you are passionate about and would like to see action taken on in 2022, please be in touch. 

Email the Sustainability and Wellbeing team directly at  

Find out more here.