Mizuiku and Upstream Battle: a powerful partnership for environmental education

Living in Aotearoa, we’re lucky to have what seems like a plentiful supply of fresh water straight from the tap and in our ‘clean, green’ rivers and streams. But did you know that nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable? Another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers, leaving just 1% for all of humanity’s needs — all our agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community, and personal needs¹. And with the world population growing exponentially, it’s forecast that billions of people may suffer from water shortages globally by 2050². The plentiful, fresh water we take for granted is much more scarce than we think, and it’s a global problem that needs global solutions!

Recently, we welcomed global beverage manufacturer Suntory on as a partner of our citizen science programme Upstream Battle, bringing their water education initiative Mizuiku to schools nationwide.

Across the country, we’re grateful for the hundreds of students, teachers and volunteers who participate in Upstream Battles by collecting and auditing litter at key upstream sites. Participants gain insights into how pollution enters water bodies and contributes to ocean pollution.

Recognising the shared vision of environmental stewardship, we’ve partnered with Suntory to combine Mizuiku’s comprehensive water curriculum with the hands-on citizen science approach of Upstream Battle, further empowering students across New Zealand to become environmental stewards and to learn the value of fresh, pollution-free water.

Understanding Mizuiku: water education for future generations

The Suntory Group has long understood the importance of fresh water, which is not only the most important ingredient in their beverage products but also a precious shared resource in the countries they operate in. Mizuiku, a term derived from Suntory’s native Japanese, literally translates as ‘living with water’ and aims to inspire students by deepening their understanding of the natural water cycle, responsible water usage, and the vital importance of water in their daily lives.

Originating in Japan in 2004 and having since expanded into over 2,600 schools in Vietnam, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia, France, China and the UK³, the Mizuiku programme – tailored to the unique environmental context of each nation – has welcomed over 320,800 children and teachers to participate around the world, and is now available in New Zealand for schools who participate in an Upstream Battle.

What’s in it for students?

Both initiatives seek to teach the next generation about the value of fresh, pollution-free water. By incorporating Mizuiku’s principles into Upstream Battle, students not only learn about the root causes of water pollution but also gain a broader understanding of the importance of water conservation and responsible water usage.

Students participating in an Upstream Battle not only get a first-hand look at the state of their local waterway through the application of citizen science techniques, but also a deeper understanding, sense of responsibility and appreciation for fresh, clean water through the Mizuiku curriculum.

Mizuiku empowers students to explore the water cycle, comprehend the interdependence between water and biodiversity, and discover sustainable practices that promote water conservation. The program seeks to equip young minds with the knowledge and skills needed to preserve water for future generations.

Educational opportunities for schools nationwide

With Suntory’s support, Keep New Zealand Beautiful can extend the reach of our Upstream Battle program to more than 200 schools nationwide. With additional resources being developed and a dedicated Educational Facilitator being appointed to provide in-classroom learning experiences focused on the water cycle, we aim to enable students to deepen their understanding of the impact of litter on water pollution, fostering a sense of environmental responsibility from an early age.

It’s easy to start an Upstream Battle, and free online resources are available for schools to begin at any date throughout the year, at a time that suits them. Depending on availability, the option to engage a dedicated Educational Facilitator through Keep New Zealand Beautiful may also be available – contact our Education Director Rebecca for information.

Sign up for an Upstream Battle here >>

Talk to us about getting an Educational Facilitator to your school here >>

Read more about our partnership with Suntory here >>


  • (1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: https://www3.epa.gov/safewater/kids/waterfactsoflife.html
  • (2) World Meteorological Organization (WMO): “The State of Climate Services 2021”. https://library.wmo.int/index.php?lvl=notice_display&id=21963
  • (3) Suntory Global: https://www.suntory.com/csr/env_water

About Suntory’s Mizuiku Programme

Suntory’s Mizuiku Education Programme for Nature and Water has been designed for the next generation. The objective of the programme is to help children to realise the beauty of nature and the importance of water, to inspire them to honour the forests that nurture the groundwater, and to think about what they can do to ensure there is water in the future.

The Suntory Group started Mizuiku in Japan in 2004 and since then the programme has expanded into Vietnam, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia, France and China – and now New Zealand. With tailored programmes for each country, Mizuiku has been well-received by children and teachers that participated in the programme, as well as by respective local governments. As of 2021, more than 320,800 children and teachers have participated in the Mizuiku programme globally.

About Frucor Suntory

Proudly part of Japanese beverage and food company Suntory, Frucor Suntory manufactures, markets and distributes a range of fruit juices, fruit drinks, energy drinks, waters and soft drinks. The company produces more than 30 million cases of drinks a year at its New Zealand-based manufacturing plant. The diverse beverage portfolio includes iconic brands such as V Energy, Suntory BOSS Coffee, Maximus, h2go, Just Juice, The Real McCoy, Fresh Up and IS also the bottling partner to PepsiCo for its range of products in New Zealand.

Frucor Suntory employs a diverse team of over 1,000 people across Australia and New Zealand. Committed to Suntory’s vision of Growing for Good, at every opportunity the team aims to work in harmony with people and nature across our operations and community programs.

Please visit the Frucor Suntory website for further information: https://www.frucorsuntory.com

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