School starts regeneration project

Part of the team of pupils at Aparima College working on the tree project are (from left) Nick Mennell (14), Kalami Grimwood, Quake Webster (13), Genna Woodward (14), Madisyn Wills (13), Tahla Ward (13) and Rose Winders (14). Photo: Ken Muir
Part of the team of pupils at Aparima College working on the tree project are (from left) Nick Mennell (14), Kalami Grimwood, Quake Webster (13), Genna Woodward (14), Madisyn Wills (13), Tahla Ward (13) and Rose Winders (14). Photo: Ken Muir
A requirement to remove a stand of large macrocarpa trees which were posing a safety risk has been turned into a major regeneration project at Aparima School in Riverton.

''Not only have we begun to rejuvenate a large piece of land at the back of the school towards the sea, through the involvement of the pupils and the community, we created a project that serves a wide range of purposes,'' Aparima College principal Cameron Davis said. ''We have a resource that is able to be used across the curriculum in the school and has drawn widespread support from the community.''

More importantly, it was an asset that would be available for future generations, he said.

Project leader Lynne Grove said the initiative had been driven by younger students who had not only been involved in working out what was going to take place, but also led the applications for funds to get the project under way.

''One pleasant surprise around the whole project has been the extent of community buy-in,'' she said.

''At our hui to discuss the plan, seven or eight different groups turned up.''

The school is building up to a massive working bee later in the year, getting 300 trees ready, organising tools and liaising with groups who will help with the planting.

The area being planted and landscaped will include walking tracks, a play area and a section featuring bee hives.

''Our college is closer to the sea than any other school in New Zealand,'' Mrs Grove said. ''We plan to include links to the sea and views of the Aparima Estuary.''

Among the associated activities are plans for students to interview locals to record their stories about the area.

''We want to work with the local museum and iwi to develop these local stories,'' she said.

Mrs Grove said the local community board was supporting the project and the school was also working with the adjacent rugby club.

''Being student-led, the project moves at a steady rather than spectacular pace,'' she said. ''But what's important is that it is an ongoing learning process.''

The coastal soil needs looking after and providing water to the area has been difficult, but the community has helped find a creative solution.

''The local volunteer fire brigade has moved their training night to the school and watering the area is now part of that activity,'' Mr Grove said. ''It's a great example of how the community has got behind the project.''

 

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