Pupils build their own backyard
A two-year project to enhance the biodiversity of Taikura Rudolf Steiner’s backyard has come to fruition with the blessing of the finished project at a ceremony recently.
As part of the Backyard Biodiversity Programme, Class 10 began the project in November 2016, and after lots of planning, digging, planting, weeding and building, they have successfully created a taonga for the school community to enjoy for years to come, says teacher Judith Grellman.
“They have most definitely further enhanced the school’s biodiversity, as a wonderful habitat full of native plants is now growing where two years ago there was only a tree that was in danger of falling down. This year the class has added a rustic fence to complete the project.”
Ruud Kleinpaste, aka ‘The Bug man’ attended the blessing ceremony. His last visit was during the planning stage two years ago.
“It was wonderful to be able to show him the site two years on,” Judith says.
Class 10 student Willow Zuiderwijk welcomed everybody and then provided an overview of the project. She thanked those who had helped along the way. The class then said a blessing and two waiata were sung. Ruud Kleinplaste then spoke about the students’ work before having a shared morning tea.
The Backyard Biodiversity programme was organised and facilitated by Robyn McCool and Megan McBride from DOC. As part of this programme the students learnt about conservation issues facing Aotearoa and about the biodiversity in their own backyard — the school. A trip to Cape Sanctuary inspired the garden project.
“Back at school the class set about creating a goal to increase the biodiversity in their own backyard. After quite a lot of brilliant ideas the class decided that a water feature would add to the school’s biodiversity and they then created a vision statement around this idea,” Judith said.
A site was chosen where the class created a water feature, doubling as a habitat for organisms to live independently and expand on their own, which increased the biodiversity in the school.
“It just happened that we had a tree in Scannell’s garden that was in danger of falling down and about to be removed.”
The tree was cut off and a pile of dirt put over to create a mound. Three students built a solar panel and found a donated pump which allowed the water to be cycled around — the water feature and the project would also be energy efficient. The students then dug a “very big trench” so that the project would have a tap close to it.
Plants donated by DOC, where seeds would later be returned, and geotextile fabric and pond liner donated by the regional council completed the next stage of the project.
“Fish& Game gave valuable advice during the planning phase and full support on the day that we built the water feature. Plant Hawke’s Bay gave wonderful advice on the types of grasses we could use around the water feature and kindly donated some of these plants.”
Judith says the project would not have been successful without the many individuals who donated materials and valuable time to help with the project.
“All of these people were invited to attend the blessing ceremony so that we could acknowledge their help and they could see the progress that has been made.”
Taikura Rudolf Steiner Class 10 students Willow Zuiderwijk (left), and Zahara Ali (right) with guest of honour Ruud Kleinpaste plant a Ka¯ ka¯ beak tree during the blessing of the biodiversity garden at Taikura Rudolf Steiner.