Alternative Auckland school swaps maths and classrooms for fishing and the bush

Former mainstream teacher Joey Moncarz has started an alternative school, which teaches pupils about hunting, gathering and survival.


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After five years in New Zealand’s normal school system, Moncarz grew frustrated – and founded Deep Green Bush School, which is currently in its second term of its first year in rural South Auckland.

“We are called a school but we look nothing like any school out there,” the Guardian quoted Moncarz as saying.

“We don’t do things like telling kids it is time to write or learn maths. When they are interested in doing it, they do it.

“We don’t have what you’d traditionally consider problem kids.

“Our parents saw their kids were unhappy and stressed in mainstream education and they started questioning – is it normal or right for kids to come home stressed and unhappy? Having taught in a mainstream school, I’d say most kids are stressed and unhappy.”

The school is registered with the Ministry of Education as an independent – and does not have to fall in line with the standard New Zealand curriculum.

“A lot of people feel there is a disconnect with nature and the outdoors and people value that and are drawn to it,” added University of Otago senior lecturer in education, doctor David Berg.

“In a modern society to be successful there are a range of skills to be developed and perhaps only some of those can be developed outside.”