Stu­dents help­ing their en­vi­ron­ment

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS -

The fire cir­cle is an an­cient tra­di­tion for many cul­tures around the world.

It’s a place to re­turn to af­ter a day of hunt­ing and gath­er­ing, a time to come to­gether and share sto­ries from the day and to learn from each other.

In a cir­cle, every­one is equal.

This was the in­ten­tion be­hind the re­cent project to build a nat­u­ral seat­ing area among the trees on the back field of Kai Iwi School, thanks to a com­mu­nity grant from Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil.

Al­though in­stead of a fire, stu­dents will be gath­ered around a grove of ko¯ whai trees and watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to the sound of tu¯ ı¯ and other na­tive birds.

Kai Iwi School is one of nine Whanganui en­vi­roschools, and one of the school’s most re­cent ini­tia­tives was to plant up their bike track with na­tive trees and shrubs.

Plant­ing trees has many ben­e­fits for the en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing the food source for the birds and bees.

Kai Iwi School is on the flight path for the kereru¯ go­ing to and from Bushy Park.

Stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers will also ben­e­fit from the plant­ings, as the trees will pro­vide shel­ter and shade from the el­e­ments as they use the bike track area.

As a school that backs on to the Kai Iwi stream, stu­dents are learn­ing the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing wa­ter­ways and how what they do at school af­fects wa­ter qual­ity down­stream.

The stu­dents built nat­u­ral tim­ber seats to use while they watch and lis­ten to the birds.

Teach­ers are look­ing for­ward to us­ing the space to give stu­dents a place to learn about the en­vi­ron­ment.

Stu­dents Joe and Mack Bel­ton built the seats (with a lit­tle help from their dad, James). Tim­ber was bought from lo­cal com­pany MacBlack which spe­cialises in sus­tain­able tim­ber s. The seat­ing area is com­fort­able, durable and 100 per cent nat­u­ral.

Hori­zons com­mu­nity grants pro­gramme funded the cost of the plant­ing and seats, and Hori­zons staff ad­vised on which plants would be ap­pro­pri­ate for the area.

Look­ing af­ter the plants is now vi­tal to en­sure suc­cess. One stu­dent, Mitchell, has al­ready taken mat­ters into his own hands and has be­gun fenc­ing off ar­eas of the plant­ing.

Be­ing an en­vi­roschool means Kai Iwi is help­ing to create the next gen­er­a­tion of cit­i­zens who nat­u­rally think and act sus­tain­ably.

One of en­vi­roschools five guid­ing prin­ci­ples is “sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties” and this idea has been present with this project.

En­vi­roschools are sup­ported by Whanganui Dis­trict Coun­cil and Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil.

■ Schools in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about the pro­gramme can con­tact Ron Fisher at ron.en­vi­

Stu­dents en­joy a rest on their brand new benches — Mitchell, Oliver, Bron­son, Joe and Mack.

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