Performance art revs up lessons on waste

Wellsford School students participate in a lesson on waste with actor Tineke Robson at an outdoor classroom at the Lawrie Road recycling centre.

Between auditioning and preparing for roles on stage and screen, actor and dancer Tineke Robson now has another job – teaching recycling and waste reduction to Mahurangi children.

Tineke was approached by Mahurangi Wastebusters founder Trish Allen to join a programme teaching waste education in north Rodney schools.

It quickly emerged that Tineke’s drama, dancing and songwriting skills made her a perfect fit for the job.   

Her lessons have become something of a theatrical performance with plenty of audience interaction and participation.

Tineke says children have to spend a lot of time sitting down in class, so allowing them to be part of a show makes things more interesting, and she believes enables them to learn more easily.

Tineke has the right background for the work. She studied musical theatre at the Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts in the Netherlands and subsequently performed in numerous Fontys’ productions and worked as a choreographer in others.

Since coming to New Zealand, she has concentrated on acting and has starred in films, commercials and on the stage – a favourite was playing the title role in Pippi Longstocking at The PumpHouse Theatre in Takapuna.

Trish Allen says Mahurangi Wastebusters began teaching waste reduction classes in north Rodney schools last year. Tineke is joined by Rosie Hutchinson, a qualified teacher to help deliver the curriculum.

Among other things, younger children learn how worms can turn kitchen scraps into garden fertiliser, and how taking care of the earth and its resources should be the responsibility of all.

Older children study the implications of human actions on the environment, in particular how waste is a huge contributor to climate change and how reducing waste is a powerful way to take action on climate.

“This makes sense to the children and it’s great to have them grappling with solutions to the waste problem,” Trish says.

“In our experience, kids are keen to become part of the solution once they understand the issues.”

Trish says Mahurangi Wastebusters is planning to expand the education programme into more schools this year and also host school visits to its recycling centre at Lawrie Road, Snells Beach, where children can see what happens to waste when it comes to the site.

Schools interested in Mahurangi Wastebusters education programmes, should email

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