A safer and more sustainable journey as a school community

Issue: Volume 103, Number 1

Posted: 25 January 2024
Reference #: 1HAepF

If you are around Wellington’s Berhampore School on a Friday, you may notice tamariki walking to or from school in organised groups – almost like a bus without wheels. Their journey is guided by spray-painted feet, colourful pou, and a buzz of excitement.

Berhampore School students walking to school.

Berhampore School students walking to school.

Berhampore School runs a ‘walking bus’ once a week. It started a few years ago when they became an Enviroschool, and was originally just once a year on the last day of Movin’March – an annual initiative from the Greater Wellington Regional Council to get students ‘walking or wheeling’ to school.

The school has embraced the initiative, and since September last year it has been extended to run every week. Every Friday children walk to school while being supervised along a 1.2km route.

Berhampore School teacher Kylie Hall says it has proven to be a hit with tamariki and whānau alike.

“The students absolutely love walking to school every Friday with the walking school bus. There is music playing on a speaker as they walk, and it is really fun to get to school in time for breakfast club!” 

Feedback from parents has also been positive, and there are now more parents on the roster to be the ‘bus drivers’ each week.

Kylie says it is a great way for the students to walk to school independently, or with friends and parents – especially parents new to the school community.

Pou to guide the journey

One of the hand-painted pou, inspired by Tamanuiterā.

One of the hand-painted pou, inspired by Tamanuiterā.

Adults and tamariki worked together to plan the route.

Pou to mark the journey were designed and painted by the students, who were guided by mana whenua representatives Mark and Dana Tumai to tell the stories of Tangaroa, Tamanuiterā, Tāwhirimātea and Tane Mahuta.

Prior to the first hīkoi, the school hosted a special ceremony to bless the pou.

The colourful nature of the pou, and the spray-painted feet, provide photo opportunities along the way.

Enviro Group members Elisa, 10, and Norah, 9, said they learned more about te ao Māori in creating the pou, and that their walking bus is “good for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our planet”.

Multiple benefits

Kylie says the route was chosen as it always had more children participating in the annual Movin’March Walking School Bus.

The school wanted to support as many children as possible to walk safely to school, and build a sense of community. 

“Our suburb Berhampore, is split into two sides by a main road into the city and for our students there are three controlled crossings, but they are not always where the students want to cross!

“For our Enviro Group it was also about the environment and reducing the number of cars coming to school for school drop-offs.” 

Berhampore School principal Simonne Goodall praised the project for encouraging students to make positive change in their community.

“Our Enviro Group wanted to create change, and I’m proud it’s been led by the students. Not only are they conscientious and creative, they’re inspired by te ao Māori and being kind to the Earth.”

Mana whenua representatives Mark and Dana Tumai blessing the pou.

Mana whenua representatives Mark and Dana Tumai blessing the pou.


The ‘walking bus’ is in line with the principles of Movin’March, which is now into its 15th year. Maddy McVie from Greater Wellington says the concept is not new, but 2023 was the first time for it to be ‘official’ and so visible, such as having actual bus stops on the street as pick-up points.

Movin’March promotes improved independence, physical and mental health, decision making, risk assessment and road safety skills.

Greater Wellington provides tools and resources for schools to promote safe and active travel, and address congestion and safety issues around the school gate.

Maddy says to encourage the students, there is also a ‘passport competition’. Students get a ‘passport’ with space for 10 stamps, which they earn every time they walk or wheel to or from school.

At the end of the month, the passports are sent into Greater Wellington and go into a draw for a $400 MYRIDE voucher. Boxes of smaller prizes are also sent out to schools.

Active Travel Action

Active travelGreater Wellington, alongside Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui, also developed Active Travel Action, a curriculum resource targeted for Years 5-8 students (adaptable to Years 0-8).

It provides an inquiry process for students to take action in response to congestion at school gates, climate change and student wellbeing.

The resource incorporates te ao Māori concepts and encourages students to lead an inquiry and engage with whānau, peers and teachers to investigate how they can travel more sustainably as a school community.

Visit schooltravel.gw.govt.nz(external link) for more information.

For more safer travel education resources for primary and secondary schools, visit NZTA's Education website(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:32 am, 25 January 2024

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