School re­claims out­door space

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

On the sur­face Grey Lynn School is much like any other in­ner-city school.

But hid­ing on its south­west­ern edge is an ur­ban for­est rooted in the school’s 103-year his­tory.

The school held an of­fi­cial open­ing for its for­est de­vel­op­ment on Fe­bru­ary 28.

A walk­ing and cycling track, fale, out­door class­room and fern­ery have been in­tro­duced to the old plan­ta­tion com­ple­ment­ing the two­s­torey block of class­rooms built last year.

Trees were planted dur­ing the early years of the Sur­rey Cres school to add to the area’s ex­ist­ing plant­ing.

Stu­dents of teacher Alex- an­der De Montalk planted a puriri tree as he left for World War I and over the fol­low­ing years more were planted in recog­ni­tion of war he­roes and the Red Cross.

But by the late 1990s the plan­ta­tion was in a poor state. Rub­bish was scat­tered across it and old trees were miss­ing hav­ing been pulled down or blown over in storms.

Prin­ci­pal Bill Barker and par­ent Bron­wyn Banks set about nur­tur­ing the area in 1999 to trans­form it into the for­est that stands to­day.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion was on the brink of clos­ing the school down be­cause of its dwin­dling roll when Mr Barker took over in 1998.

‘‘It was im­por­tant for us to have a de­sign that was placed as close to the for­est as we could, so then the kids are look­ing out into it,’’ Mr Barker says.

‘‘Some­times you can be in those class­rooms, you can be look­ing out the win­dows and see wood pi­geons eat­ing and it’s lovely.’’

Al­fresco learn­ing: Grey Lynn school has a new out­door class­room.

For­est de­vel­op­ment: A new fale sits at the bot­tom of the ur­ban for­est.

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