Glentunnel School students Zara and Frida show their bird nest creations

Children’s planting experience

by Ann van Engelen

Te Ara Kakariki’s Kids Discovery Plantout programme recently completed their sixth year of planting, with 14 Selwyn Schools taking part in the educational experience, which is provided in collaboration with Enviroschools Canterbury.

“Our goal is to create a native corridor linking the mountains to the sea or Lake Ellesmere whilst educating the community on the value of Canterbury’s unique native biodiversity,” says Te Ara Kakariki coordinator Letitia Lum.

The trust has so far planted at 84 unique sites through their Greendot and Kids Discovery Plantout programmes.

“This year 1,329 students took part in planting more than 5,000 native trees. Students learn about native biodiversity through hands-on experience.

Teachers work with Enviroschools and Te Ara Kakariki to incorporate the activity into their curriculum. Each plantout day is unique to the school and site.” Schools return to the sites during multiple years, becoming guardians of a native ecosystem in their community.

“One hundred and seven Glentunnel School students planted at the local Joyce Reserve installing 300 eco-sourced native shrubs and trees. They also take part in aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate hunts, native flora herbal preparations, flax weaving, creating bird and lizard habitat and plant propagation. They monitor their plantings, looking at plant survival, changes to water quality and bird and invertebrate presence. They see the positive effects planting contributes to the local environment as well as gain skills in observation and recording.

“West Melton School have planted at Kowhai Sanctuary for five consecutive years. Four hundred and thirty eco-sourced native seedlings provide dryland habitat for birds, invertebrates and lizard species. Students took part in a ‘Minibeast Safari’ where they found spiders and red admiral butterflies drinking nectar from the kowhai flowers. They discussed the roles of insects in the forest, including pollination and decomposition.