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Full stream ahead for Douglas Park pupils

Douglas Park year three and four pupils who have cleared out the Mangatepuku Stream behind their school with caretaker Blue Hansen and teacher aide Joe Dahlberg in background. PHOTO/ELI HILL

$5000 donation to help school project

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A small group of Douglas Park School pupils have shown that small hands can make a big impact after their efforts to clear the Mangatepuku Stream were boosted with a $5000 donation.

Since the beginning of last year, teacher aide Joe Dahlberg and caretaker Blue Hansen have worked with two groups of boys pulling rubbish and weeds from the stream bordering the Masterton school.

Dahlberg said that the boys’ attitudes had been completely turned around since beginning the project.

“Some of the boys would be challenging in the classroom atmosphere, and we’re just taking them out and immersing them in nature basically.

Douglas Park pupils at work clearing Mangatepuku Stream.

“The kids’ social development and their inner being started to shine, they were doing boys stuff in the creek – getting muddy, getting dirty. It was just a matter of taking them out and getting them growing as people.”

Since beginning their project, the boys have pulled pushbikes, a shopping trolley, a car tyre rim, corrugated iron, “heaps” of cans and weeds from their 20-metre section of stream.

Dahlberg said their efforts had been noticed by a next-door neighbour who had invited the crew to clear her section of the stream.

From there principal Gareth Sinton said the project had “just exploded”.

“Since then one of my colleagues, a principal in town who lives next to our school . . . he’s invited us to go down there and clean out his section.”

Sinton had received an email on Waitangi weekend from former Upper Hutt College principal Peter Lee who now lives in Wairarapa.

“He looked up the school’s ERO reports in the region and looked at their websites and picked us because he wanted to support some kind of educational project.

“He’s giving us $5000 this year which is potentially ongoing because he can see what we’re trying to achieve at this school.”

The money will be used to help the group buy plants, build stiles and for further outdoor projects, as well as to supplement Dahlberg’s hours. On Wednesday morning, the Douglas Park team met at their creek with Lee, Rangitane o Wairarapa’s Joseph Potangaroa and Greater Wellington Regional Council environmental monitoring officer Ashley Mitchell.

Soon the group of year three and four boys will learn exactly how healthy their stream is and have strategies to improve the water quality.

Year three pupil Colton Boone said he preferred the stream over the classroom.

“I like that we get to feed the eels sometimes, and if you bring gumboots you can hop on the side and stand in the water.

“We picked up rubbish and all the weeds with rakes and all that. You could barely see any water because of the weeds and the rubbish under the weeds.”

Boone said he told his family about their work in the stream.

“They think it’s pretty cool.”

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