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Primary school leads way

St Teresa’s School pupils, from left, Benjamin Everlein, Van Rozing, and Rosie Renshaw get stuck into planting at Donald’s Creek in Featherston. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A stream in South Wairarapa is getting a helping hand from a bunch of Featherston Year 6 pupils keen to restore and protect its native biodiversity.

The children from St Teresa’s School have started riparian planting on a section of Donald’s Creek, at the southeastern corner of town.

In chilly conditions last week, the pupils planted 300 native grasses alongside the stream in an effort to improve the environment and encourage life back to the water.

The planting is the first of what the pupils hope will be many more to come, and a source of pride in the community.

Donald’s Creek is part of the Featherston landscape, marking the eastern boundary before cutting under State Highway 2 and passing among several properties on its way to Lake Wairarapa.

South Wairarapa District Council granted guardianship of the area being planted to Featherston schools in 2016.

St Teresa’s classroom teacher Liz Lark said pupils are genuinely interested in their waterways and have been learning about stream health and stream restoration.

“We’ve been working with the team from Mountains to Sea Wellington, monitoring stream health, and developing a restoration plan for this section of Donald’s Creek”, Lark said.

“They know that through planting native grasses and shrubs, they will encourage greater biodiversity.”

Year 6 pupil Van Rozing said this means more fish and eels in the stream, and more birds and insects hanging around in the shrubs.

As well as providing habitat for wildlife, established plants will create much needed shade for fish in the stream too, Van’s classmate Rosie Renshaw said.

Lark said the pupils hope the area will one day be made a public place that people can come and enjoy.

“They know it will take a lot of time and effort to achieve, but long term, that is their vision and I think it’s something the whole community will be really supportive of,” Lark said.

Pupil Benjamin Everlein encourages “everyone in Featherston” to roll up their sleeves and get on board.

Mountains to Sea Wellington director Zoe Studd described the enthusiasm and passion of the pupils and their teacher as “inspiring”.

“They want to see fish and native animals thrive again in this forgotten spot, and they are doing something about it … that’s so exciting.”

Their vision would require a lot of community support, Studd said.

The pupils’ hopes and aspirations fit into a much wider initiative, the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project, a joint venture involving local and central government, and iwi.

The project was launched in 2008, with the aim of restoring this “wetland treasure”.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is a key partner, and also a funder of Mountains to Sea Wellington.

Wairarapa Moana is the largest remaining wetland in the lower North Island. It is of national and international importance due to its significant cultural, ecological, and recreational values.

For more information on the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project go to: waiwetlands.org.nz

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