< back


BLAKE – formerly the Sir Peter Blake Trust – was set up after Sir Peter’s death in the Amazon in 2001 to continue his environmental legacy. Today, the organisation operates a range of programs focusing on environmental leadership.

“Our vision is for all generations to be inspired and empowered to be kaitiaki o te taiao (guardians of the environment)”, said Alice Ward-Allen, Head of Discovery Programmes.

“One initiative is the New Zealand Virtual Reality programme (NZ-VR), a collaboration between BLAKE and NZ Geographic. They have captured amazing 360° footage of Aotearoa’s coastline, both on land and underwater. We’ve used that footage to create Virtual Reality lessons for schools, particularly focusing on students in Years 7-10.”

During the lesson, students use VR headsets to experience a 3D tour of healthy and unhealthy marine environments, followed by a conversation about actions they can take to show guardianship of the marine environment.

“We’re a small team with a big goal to get NZ-VR across Aotearoa to as many students as possible,” said Alice.

“That presents a challenge when you factor accommodation, food and travel into the equation. We only charge schools a small proportion of the costs involved.”

Toi Foundation funding of $8k helped two VR educators to bring the programme to ten Taranaki schools in 2023, reaching over 1100 students over two weeks.

“It enabled us to connect with the wider Taranaki region, build relationships and raise awareness of our organisation and the marine environment,” said Alice. 

“People don’t often get to go underwater and understand what a healthy and unhealthy NZ marine environment actually looks like. The cost and logistics prevent schools from taking students out in real life. NZ-VR provides that immersive experience – it feels as if they’re going snorkelling. 

“Then we focus on building a sense of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, so the students can think about how they could help solve those problems.”

Back to Stories

Our website uses cookies to help understand and improve your experience. Please let us know if that’s okay by you.

Cookies help us understand how you use our website, so we can serve up the right information here and in our other marketing.