Pupils at Kahutara School in South Wairarapa have been busy restoring a wetland. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

The next generation is helping improve biodiversity while learning more about te taiao [nature] at Kahutara School in South Wairarapa.

For the past three years, pupils have been helping develop a wetland after participating in the Whitebait Connection programme which was led by Mountains to Sea Wellington and supported by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The land where the wetland has been developed was donated by grandparents of a former pupil in 2017 and the restoration work had been integrated into the school’s curriculum.

Regional council biodiversity adviser Micheline Evans said three years on pupils were already seeing the positive changes.

Pupils examine dragonfly larvae.

This included flourishing locally sourced kowhai, kahikatea, harakeke, cabbage trees, black beech and frequent visits from kotare, ducks and the occasional white heron.

Evans said educational and environmental projects provided practical opportunities to support the pupils’ well-being while setting the region up for success “by leaving a healthy and thriving biodiversity legacy”.

Kahutara School deputy principal Hamish McRae agreed.

“It’s the small things like our students all picking a tree to research and name that build their sense of connection and belonging with the area.

“Some of these children will grow up to become farmers, so it’s awesome they can begin to appreciate the value of these activities.

“We can see children making connections between the conservation work they are already doing on their family farms, like trapping and planting.”

He said the school couldn’t have transformed this once-was muddy paddock into a thriving ecosystem without further support from numerous community groups, such as South Wairarapa Rotary and Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust.

The school was visited by Scottish dragonfly experts Ruary MacKenzie Dodds and Kari de Koenigswarter, who showed pupils that the wetland was a hotspot of baron dragonfly larvae.

The school was visited by Scottish dragonfly experts Ruary MacKenzie Dodds and Kari de Koenigswarter, who showed pupils that the wetland is a hotspot of baron dragonfly larvae.

There were also plans to include QR codes on trees along a community track around the wetland for visitors to learn about species’ history.

Regional councillor Adrienne Staples said she hoped the venture inspired others to start their own projects.

“The young generation is paving the way for a greener, healthier and a more resilient future through kaupapa like these.”

  • More information about GWRC’s sustainable schools programmes can be found online at gw.govt.nz/stuff-for-schools


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