Pupils delve into waterway health
Water clarity, its importance and how to measure it were all topics of conversation at Redwood Valley Farm recently.
The Paengaroa farm is the venue for Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s annual Hands On Water Expo where 180 pupils learn about caring for waterways over two days.
“Looking after waterways is everyone’s business,” says event co-ordinator and Bay of Plenty Regional community engagement advisor Natalie Ridler.
“The kids who joined us had fun, while learning what aquatic insects, eels and pest fish look like, discovering what the main causes of flooding, water pollution and how to control them are, and gaining the skills to measure things like stream flow, clarity and rainfall.
“The participants come as representatives from their schools and will go home and share what they’ve learnt with their classmates, families and wider communities. We’ve been running the event for several years now. We usually see a few schools inspired to set up monitoring and stream care projects in their local waterways afterwards, which is a fantastic outcome.”
Examples include the Nga¯ kau Ma¯ haki class at Te Puke Primary, which set up a care group to help look after the Ohineangaanga Stream last year, and St Thomas More Catholic School in Mt Maunganui which has been monitoring a Tauranga Harbour estuary site at Matapihi since 2015.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has co-ordinated the Hands on Water Expo in partnership with NZ Landcare Trust, Department of Conservation, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Emergency Management Bay of Plenty, Maketu¯ Ongatoro Wetland Society, and Hemi O’callaghan.
They each run one of the activity stations children rotate through in the course of the day.
“We’re really grateful to our event partners as well as the teachers and parent helpers who make the expo possible,” says Natalie.
“Students had a great time and we know they’ll be fabulous water ambassadors as a result.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council harbourmaster Peter Buell and the Harbourmaster Team made their first appearance at the expo this year.
Peter says the event was a great opportunity, right at the start of summer, to teach children about boating safety when out on the lakes.
“We focused on the importance of wearing a lifejacket and demonstrated how badly things can go wrong if a properly fitted lifejacket is not worn,” Peter says.
“The children had some fantastic questions and we were impressed by how engaged they were and how much they already knew.”
Blake Bain from Te Puke Primary School holds up a dragonfly during Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s stream health expo.
Talia Olsen from Te Puke Primary School enjoying the stream monitoring activity.