Masterton Primary Room 9 pupils holding up their certificates and the cheque they presented to Pukaha’s Marie Weston. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

“Birds can’t talk, but if they could, they’d want to say thank you so much,” Marie Weston said to the pupils of Masterton Primary’s Room 9.

The Year 4 pupils had raised more than $500 to sponsor three hectares worth of bird sanctuary at the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre, where Weston works as a visitor centre guide.

The pupils had to postpone their trip to the Mt Bruce sanctuary twice. A power cut thwarted their first attempt on September 16, followed by torrential rain on September 18.

Pupils sold loom bands to raise money. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Finally, after the school holidays, Room 9 made it to Pukaha on October 14.

“We hardly ever cancel because of the weather, but it was absolutely flooded,” Weston said.

Teacher Amanda Jolliffe said that her class had learned the word “resilience”.

The trip was meant to be part of their larger learning unit, ‘What makes NZ unique’.

Stuck at school after their first failed visit to Mt Bruce, the class went to the Pukaha website instead.

It was there they came across the wildlife centre’s Sponsor a Hectare scheme.

“We wanted to fundraise … and everyone wanted to do the kiwi,” pupil Harlem Young-Dewar said.

Asked why they chose the kiwi, Skylah Roberts said: “Because we are Kiwi.”

Pupils hugging trees at Mt Bruce.

Initially, the class thought they would be sponsoring one individual kiwi. However, Weston said Pukaha named their 942ha available for sponsorship after native birds.

Each bird represented the amount of money needed to sponsor a particular plot, ranging from Tui at $50 to Huia at $500. A Kiwi plot cost $200.

The pupils raised money by selling pizza, ice blocks, toys, and books to other pupils.

Jolliffe conducted a maths lesson to help them decide which plots to sponsor and eventually, they landed on of the Kokako, Kiwi, and Tui plots.

“We had seven different options, and then they put it to a vote, and this is what we came out with,” Jolliffe said.

Weston said that less than 10 per cent of the hectares at Pukaha had been sponsored so far.

As each sponsorship only lasted one year, Jolliffe suggested that Masterton Primary could keep the tradition going and choose one of the bird-hectares to sponsor each year.

“Kiwi, kiwi, kiwi,” her pupils said.



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