Project teaches sustainability

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Insect hunters... Gore Main School pupils (from left) Riley Reed (10), Lucas Raymond (9), Addison McGarry and Regan Gillan (both 10) look for stream life to catch and observe during Environment Southland’s Waimumu Downs School Project on Wednesday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Southland school pupils branched out from their usual environment with a visit to a farm near Gore to learn about sustainability last week.

The Waimumu Downs environmental project is a collaboration between Environment Southland, the Hokonui Runanga and landowners Chris and Desiree Giles.

More than a dozen schools visited Waimumu Downs over the four-day project, including Gore Main School, Funshine Early Learning Centre and Otama School.

Regional Enviroschools co-ordinator Megan Bates said the aim of the project was to learn about farmers working towards sustainability.

“We’ve had four modules,” Miss Bates said.

“The first one looked at native plants.”

Pupils planted native species, marking the locations with decorated stakes so they could revisit them in the future.

Natural resources were another module.

“We looked at harakeke for this one .. we actually did some raft building and racing in the stream using the harakeke as rope.”

For the final two units, pupils learnt about pests and about the conditions that make a healthy stream.

The project was an example of farmers working towards sustainability, she said.

“This bit of land has been donated by farmers Chris and Desiree Giles for schools and the community to use.

“All the students learnt something about the environment .. and had a lot of fun on the way.”

Feedback on the project was “fantastic,” she said.

Pupils also planted fruit trees as koha for attending the event, which they would also be able to come back and visit, she said.

“We’ll have an orchard here.”