About Bush Sprouts Nature School


Bush Sprouts Nature School was started in 2018.   We are a stand-alone, registered charity, with the purpose of getting as many as possible NZ children learning from and through play in nature.  We do this in three ways: Through working with Schools and ECE providers to set up Bush Sprouts programmes in their local bush; equipping schools and teachers with the confidence and experience to run a sustainable nature play programme that has their children learning and growing through play in nature.  We also run the Nature School programme, our 1 day School that runs two days a week at Battle Hill and also in Kāpiti at Kaitawa reserve; Here our passionate, experienced and skillful staff empower children through freeplay in nature, to play, grow, learn, lead, question, make mistakes, work through emotions, learn to love nature and so much more! Our new footloose & fancy-free-play programme sees us promoting sustainability through re-use of junk (aka loose parts) as play resources.  We also run the Bush Sprouts holiday programme each School holidays and Leo runs Nature Educator training throughout the country with Celia Hogan from Little Kiwis Nature Play.

We constantly strive to build respectful and reciprocal relationships with our whenua and our people.  Our Philosophy and purpose reflect who we are and what is important to us.   

Head over to our feedback & reviews tab to see what past children and their families have to say about our life changing learning experiences.

Leo Smith

Kia ora koutou,

I started Nature School NZ five years ago; I am the director of Nature School NZ Trust, kaiako on the Bush Sprouts programmes, Footloose & fancy-free-play, Nature School and Bush Sprouts holiday programmes.

I am privileged to be a mother, a fully qualified and registered teacher, with a degree in Sport and Recreation and 2 diplomas in teaching; years of experience teaching in Secondary, Early Childhood and Primary levels. I have also held SKOANZ/NZOIA Kayak 1 and Bush 1 teaching/instructing awards in the past.  After studying and working in teaching and outdoor instructing for around 10 years, I set up and ran the Bush Sprouts programme at Plimmerton Kindergarten (while a kaiako there) for 5.5 years. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive results from children, their families and the community; i wanted to get more children learning from and through nature. I presented at conferences and helped a few Kindergartens get their own nature programmes up and running, but knew I could reach more people by working directly with them. Thus, Nature School NZ was born to share the love and get as many children as possible learning from and through play in nature.

I think I have the best job in the world; I get to spend every day in nature, playing with children and empowering them to live and learn in whatever way is best for them.  I love seeing the joy on childrens’ faces as they achieve their goals and whisper ‘best day ever’ and have lost count of how many young people we have empowered in this way.

Amanda Dobson

Kia ora koutou.

I have come to know that being in Nature is my ‘Happy Place’.

I love opportunities to share my passion for being in nature, particularly with tamariki. I am a big believer in the importance of place-based learning & nature connection in the early years for sowing the seeds of life long holistic wellbeing.

I am a mother of 3 young adults, Hinemarama 30, Aaria 27 and Tūora 25. I am also Kui/Grandma of my mokopuna Toitū, 10. They are the centre of my universe !

I have both a Primary and ECE Diploma of teaching and predominantly worked in bilingual and kaupapa maōri ECE settings for 20 odd years as my tamariki were growing up.  I have enjoyed working in the Enviroschools Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui team for the last ten years. My role is the Enviroschools Community Facilitator in Porirua and Kāpiti, working with ECE, Primary & Secondary schools in support of their sustainability journeys, which is what I do on the other 4 days of the working week other than Nature School Wednesdays. 

I am very grateful to live in Titahi Bay, Porirua, a beautiful place.


Lisa Lily

I am passionate about providing opportunities for tamariki to move with and play together in natural surroundings.  My daughter Orlaith spent her childhood living in a forest in the South Island, and my two sons Alexander and Jacob Añaru our nature babies have spent their toddlerhood at the local Kapiti beaches and reserves where we run Kāpiti Nature playgroup and attend the Paekakariki play centre. 

I met Leo whilst facilitating Timbernook experiences; programmes and one day schools in the Belmont Regional Park and was invited to work with her at Nature School.  

I am a qualified Primary and Early Childhood teacher, with many years in the education sector in NZ and London. I live with my partner Andy and our children in Paraparaumu Beach where we also run Elemental Plumbing Gas and Heating.

I am very excited to again be a part of Nature School and to have the opportunity to share my learning journey alongside local tamariki. 

Poipoia te kakaono Kia puawai – nurture the seed and it will blossom


Duncan Lints

I have taught for 25 years, the last 8yrs in the Early Childhood Sector.  Originally specialising in Physical Education & Education Outside the Classsroom.  I have been associated with Enviroschools for 20 years with various schools.

 I have 2 older daughters Fran & Jessie, and have been married for 32 years to Lorelle. We have cats, fish, birds, chooks, and two active dogs.  Quite some of my time is spent keeping the chooks out of the vege gardens!I have been  playing hockey after 52 years,  an avid DIY participant, and a long suffering loyal Warriors fan.  

 After deciding to slow down and enjoy life more, I work 3 days a week as a Manny, looking after two young children with Lorelle. I believe each day I spend at Nature School as a reward and privilage. Where else do you get to work with curious tamariki, in a setting that a traditional classroom cannot match, and participate in activities that change with every conversation.

 Thank you very much for the opportunity to work with your tamariki.


Vicky Griffin

Kia Ora 

I’ve been an occupational therapist/kaiwhakaora ngangahau  for 32 years and the essence of using meaningful and purposeful activity to promote wellness and develop skills and confidence has become part of my way of being.   I’ve worked in child and adolescent mental health for 22 years and am committed to supporting young people to live their best lives ‘with and regardless of’ any health barriers they may experience.  I believe being in nature provides us with so many opportunities to enhance our wellbeing…. to experience awe, movement, diverse sensory experience, increased  awareness of self, a sense of calm and adventurous ways to develop many skills for living and confidence.  So I’m thrilled to bring my occupational therapy knowledge and experience in helping to support the tamariki of Nature school to have the best experience they can.



My name is Sam (Samah) and I started volunteering at nature school in late 2021 in my first year of studying Educational Psychology at Victoria University. I am originally a refugee from Aden, Yemen and I have always loved the outdoors and connecting with nature. I love to connect with nature in my spare time through nature walks and swimming whenever I can.

 Joining the nature school family has been a blessing in many ways. I see so many parallels from my studies on the effects of Nature based play for children’s development and I get to witness it unfold right in front of my eyes! I have been inspired by many children over the past few years, seeing them gain emotional skills, pride of self and a strong sense of connection. Seeing and supporting this development unfold has been soul enriching. 

 Children have the capacity and want to lead, and we nurture that here. Tamariki are encouraged to engage in self-assessment when engaging in activities during the day while still honouring their ideas, helping them develop critical thinking skills as well as a sense of self-trust.

 Every child that has come through has had an intuitive connection to nature that clicks the minute they warm up and nurtures their sense of belonging in a way you can clearly see and sense. The skills and experiences acquired at nature school are those I believe will last with children for a long time and that they will carry throughout their lives.  I will always have Nature school in my heart 


Exploring the rich sensory experience of nature

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Wellington, New Zealand

027 438 5366


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