Inspiring students to explore environmental careers
A community planting programme is a win-win for students by helping them gain conservation industry insights and enhancing their local river knowledge.
This initiative was established by the community, in collaboration with Masterton District Council (MDC), Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to improve the aesthetic and biodiversity of a local riverside plot.
Students love the chance to get to out of classroom, explore a potential career path, plant trees and restore the river’s edge, says Peter Hing, flood protection field supervisor at Greater Wellington.
“The community who initiated this kaupapa started engaging schools and groups back in 2017. We have kept the ball rolling by establishing a community programme that focuses on upskilling students through the management of a plot along the Waipoua River, which runs through urban Masterton.
“We’ve also had invaluable support from Joe Potangaroa of Rangitāne o Wairarapa who has brought a passion and cultural focus that has helped with the success of the planting programme.
“Other members of the community have also shown their generosity, such as JPS Earthmoving which kindly donated mulch for this project,” adds Peter.
This year students of all ages from Makoura College, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa and Lakeview school have planted and mulched around 2000 natives including harakeke, ribbonwood and manuka.
“We’ve had such good input from the students, and a special thanks to Jo Paku, a teacher at Makoura College who has been active in engaging the students in this project. We couldn’t have achieved what we have so far without them,” adds Peter.
These planting days are invaluable opportunities for students to work closely with field experts and take a sneak peek into an industry that could become their chosen profession.
Local schools have met the programme with open arms as it offers kids key responsibilities to aid with their development from time management, health and safety to fostering relationships with key partners and community groups.
Greater Wellington councillor Adrienne Staples says, “I’d like to say ka pai to all the young people who are learning new environmental skills and making our region a better, even more beautiful place.”
Although the planting season is coming to an end, Greater Wellington is seeking help to prepare and mulch planted sites so they can flourish.
“There are heaps of opportunities to learn from our experts and to help out in your local area, we really rely on our community and value their mahi,” adds Cr Staples.