Pupils get stuck into wetland work

Rain or shine . . . Longford Intermediate School pupils Isobel Pol lard (12) and Holly McClelland (13) take part in their second tree planting at the Waipahi Wetlands after getting caught in the rain last year. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

Longford Intermediate School pupils are making a tradition out of tree-planting at the Waipahi Wetlands.

Pupils visited the wetlands to plant about 200 trees on Friday after doing the same last year.

The Waipahi Wetlands is 9ha of farmland just outside Waipahi, set aside for wetland restoration by owners Gerard and Ann Vallely.

Environment teacher Nicola Millar said the tree-planting has become a yearly event for the school.

The experience taught pupils about sustainability of the environment, she said.

“Being part of the restoration is amazing for them.

“It’s making the kids aware of environmental change and the way to protect and enrich the environment. This is water purification.”

At the same time, the tree-planting benefited their local area, she said.

“The kids are helping to give back to the community by restoring the wetland.

“These children could come out here, invite their families, bring a picnic and go for a walk.”

Pupils had been looking forward to the trip, Ms Millar said.

“It’s quite special to come back, and they’re still talking about it from last time.”

Pupil Holly McClelland (13) said she was proud to see the trees she planted last year had grown.

She hoped to come back in the future “to see the forest”.

Fellow pupil Isobel Pollard (12) said it was good to see how the wetland had progressed in only a year.

“I was here last year. None of the bridges were built yet.

“I think it’s quite good. It’s easier to move around and we can plant more trees along the sides.”

She looked forward to the wetland becoming a place people wanted to visit.

“I’d be pretty proud. I’d say: I planted those trees.”

Parent volunteer Kelvin Mackay was surprised by the pupils’ resilience after they worked in the rain last year and they kept going.

It was not until the teachers said: “Come on you lot, we’ve got to get you in the bus because we don’t want to send you home with a cold” that they stopped, he said.