Marsden Valley Education Centre

LEOTC Active hands-on experiences to enhance and inspire your students’ learning

The Education Centre at the Shantytown Heritage Park was started in 1998 to provide learning experiences outside of the classroom, and is part funded by the Ministry of Education. 

Schools from all over New Zealand visit the centre, which boasts a range of learning programmes based on but not limited to the colourful history of the West Coast. The school programmes are hands-on and active.

Students of all ages, from Year 1-13, are welcome and every group is catered for on an individual basis so that your Achievement Objectives and Learning Outcomes are met in full.  All of our programmes are hands on and active, pose problems for students to solve and encourage group work and co-operation as well as individual achievement.

Nga mihi nui,
Judi Mears, Joela Hagenaar & Lisa Barbour.

New Zealand Curriculum

Our LEOTC programmes compliment and support the New Zealand curriculum and thus enhance classroom learning. They are an authentic, hands-on and interactive learning experience with a strong focus on the development of the five Key Competencies.
Using language, symbols and texts
Managing self
Relating to others
Participating and contributing

Our Programmes

Marsden Valley Education Centre based in Shantytown, is supported by the Ministry of Education under a Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom  (LEOTC) grant.  Schools from any part of New Zealand may visit the centre, which boasts a range of learning programmes based on the colourful history of the West Coast.


Have your class camp in the heart of a “Gold Rush” town on the West Coast!

Shantytown in conjunction with Marsden Valley Education Centre, can offer a fabulous opportunity to host camps right here in the township.

Read more…


Each year a wide range of special days and periods are celebrated. For example, Chinese New Year, ANZAC, Matariki and Victorian Christmas.

Can we assist with your specific celebrations? Special programmes to take advantage of celebrations, festivals and topical themes have previously included:

  • Lantern Festival Overnight Camps Celebrating the Chinese New Year
  • First Encounters 250 Celebrations to mark 250th Anniversary of Captains Cook’s arrival in New Zealand.

Contact us at the MVEC to find out more.

Our Values

All our Marsden Valley Education Centre LEOTC programmes integrate values identified by the current curriculum, Te Whariki and Kahikitia. The programmes encourage students to persevere in the face of difficulties, think critically, creatively and reflectively; also to respect diversity, be fair, honest, responsible, and accountable and act ethically; to respect themselves and others , to take care of our environment and the treasures/taonga displayed here at Shantytown.

The Marsden Valley Education Centre Team

Our Educators

Centre Coordinator/Educator
Lisa Barbour

Lead Educator
Judi Mears

Denniston Educator
Gary James


This was the start of our survival unit so has provided us with great stepping stones.
Franz Josef School
28 February 2017
My students have gained so much about the importance of not only the West Coast but of where they lived. It is one thing to just sit in the class; it's a whole other story to experience it!
Whataroa School
09 April 2017
Giving a real clear knowledge of the life and history of Denniston & surrounding areas.
Grey Main School at Denniston
14 March 2017
It's been fantastic for the class to have a range of hands on activities and to see the range of fossils/gems/stones. They were able to hear from experts in the field.
Kaniere School
30 May 2017
So much more meaningful to see and hear in this environment than just reading about it.
St Thomas, Christchurch
20 June 2017
The children have experienced learning in an authentic context. My special needs child was able to participate in every activity.
St Mary's School
1 December 2017
Education at Shantytown