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Wetland wondering

What are wetlands? How big was Wairarapa Moana and wetlands in the past?

Why are there so many swans here and grass in the water? Are the wetlands swollen?

These were a few initial wonderings of young people from four schools who participated in the Enviroschools Wetland Wondering Day at Wairio Wetlands last week.

The day was a collaboration between the Wairarapa Moana projects team from Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kohunui Marae whānau and Enviroschools.

The young people participated in a wide range of activities in the morning including;

Measuring trees, working out the best trees to grow and how, to restore wetlands.

Demonstrating how catchments work and learning about the important role wetlands play.

Weaving harakeke caterpillars and hearing how Wairarapa Moana was the food basket for local hapu.

Slowing down and taking on the perspective of the wetlands and creatures which was then expressed through creative writing.

The young people enjoyed writing about and describing wetlands – one said it helped them learn that wetlands can help stop flooding.

After being restored by a cup of hot chocolate and a sausage, everyone was ready to take action and help in the restoration of the wetlands by planting trees, which were sourced from Kohunui Marae nursery.

Each plant was lovingly held, eased into the soil and then tucked into its new home with a wool mat.

So, what were the wonderings at the end of day?

How will catchments cope in the future?

How long will it take to restore the wetlands?

How long will those trees take to grow to become a forest?

Several young people were also caught wondering: “When can we come again?” Each of the schools said they wanted to take action by doing more plantings in their own schools and communities.

Thank you to Kohunui Marae, GWRC, Department of Conservation, the Mauri Oho Project, Stephen Hartley (VUW), Mountains to Sea Wellington, South Wairarapa District Council, Carterton District Council, Fish and Game, Zip Plumbing Masterton, Little Green Dunny, Ti-K Photography and the Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui team. Conservation Week runs from August 14-20.

The Wairarapa Midweek has partnered with conservation groups to put a spotlight on conservation efforts locally.

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