Pupils delve into wa­ter­way health

Te Puke Times - - News -

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.

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