Hilltop School - Team 5
Award Category: Waikato
We adopted the Oruatua Conservation Reserve at Tauranga Taupo, for an environmental project. The aim was to begin a long term eradication programme of pest weeds and plants with the view to eventually restoring the native bush. We started with an orientation day, members from DOC and Project Tongariro, to identify native trees/plants and the problem plants (many garden escapees).
The first workday saw the students clearing a large area of tradescantia (wandering willie) and montbretia, which was smothering native seedlings, cutting and poisoning Japanese honeysuckle which was strangling mature native trees and cutting and poisoning broom & cotoneaster which covered an area approximately the size of a rugby field. This last area was at the junction of two walking tracks and became the main focus for the year.
In groups the students laboriously cut the broom and cotoneaster with loppers and saws and painted the stumps with herbicide before dragging the waste through the bush and over a bridge to trailers for transport to the Turangi Transfer Station. On a later trip, prior to planting, it was decided to hire a chipper to mulch the waste and use the mulch around the new trees. More mulch was also obtained from a local resident and students had to shovel it onto a trailer to be transported closer to the site.
On the planting days, post hole borers were hired to dig the holes as the ground was too hard and rocky for spades. To plant the 650 trees, the students worked in groups to clear the hole of rocks, place fertiliser tablet, tuck the tree in, water and mulch. Academic Learning and Social Interaction:
Native bush study including plant identification
Animal pests impacting on the native environment
How and why garden plants were introduced to New Zealand
Identification of pest plants and garden escapees in school grounds, at Waihi Beach (our camp in Term 1) and of course in the Oruatua Conservation Reserve.
Writing reports and posters in Term 1 and persuasive writing in Term 2.
Weedbusters Blog on school website
Interpersonal relationships this has been huge. Throughout the workdays there has been constant dialogue between the students, co-operating, helping each other, negotiating and problem solving. Students have found strengths they didn’t know they possessed. There is an increased camaraderie in the team.
A sense of pride and worth for individuals that they have made such an impact for the good of the whole community both present and future.