Nature2classroom’s Kirsten Simmons, Andrea Hutchins and Clarissa Mackay are thrilled to have made the semi-final round of the SheEO New Zealand Ventures. Peter Rees Photography

Waiheke education entrepreneurs have grabbed the attention of women-only funding platform SheEO, which has announced them as semi-finalists for New Zealand’s 2021 Venture.

Talking Tree Hill’s Kirsten Simmons, Andrea Hutchins and Clarissa MacKay impressed SheEO with their Nature2classroom program which swaps screen time for green time, with ambitions to innovate children’s outdoor education in New Zealand and potentially the world.

“This is actually a business that’s grown out of Covid,” explained Kirsten, who founded Talking Tree Hill outdoor educational facility on Waiheke several years ago.

“This is my vision which has come from doing the mahi at Talking Tree Hill, doing the research and my 20-plus years of teaching. And then different people started surrounding it.

“Clarissa, Andrea and Judy Mullane have been working on this with me. They all have different backgrounds in finance or PR or communications and project management.”

Pre-seed funding has already been provided by a local businessman and philanthropist to develop the start-up content for Nature2classroom.

“We have been working with local film-makers creating these three and a half minute videos for teachers, children and for parents at home,” said Kirsten.

“It’s an inspirational creative outdoor programme that gives kaiako and tamariki the opportunity to access and use the outdoors as a classroom. They get about one to three hours of outside time from one video, which comes with accompanying activity sheets.

• Liza Hamilton

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