Chicken dream leads to trap project

Pest-free . . . Waikoikoi School pupils and teacher Jessica Paul (third from back left) are creating pest traps in order to get their school pest-free so they can have chickens. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

An idea to get chickens at Waikoikoi School has evolved into a community project.

The rural school of 12 pupils had wanted chickens but the idea was put on hold when teacher Jessica Poole spotted a stoat running with a rabbit twice its size on the field.

A second spotting spawned the idea to get some traps into the school.

Ms Poole said the pupils thrived on the idea.

‘‘I suggested a few things to them and they were so keen to help and do what they could to get the chickens,’’ she said.

‘‘Some of them have dealt with pest trapping in their everyday lives, so they were really excited.’’

‘‘We’re learning about pests at the moment and what they do to the native wildlife, so it was a perfect fit for the kids to really immerse themselves in the specifics of pest control and especially the importance of Ma ¯ori taonga with the wildlife.’’

The school is working towards its bronze status through Enviroschools and pest trapping is one step closer to the goal.

Ms Poole connected with local farmers, builders and families to make the idea a group effort.

‘‘We had some timber donated to make the traps and some funding for four of the traps to have the contraptions inside,’’ she said.

‘‘We had an afternoon where parents, grandparents and friends of pupils came along and helped to cut wood, drill holes in the boxes, nail the mesh wire on to the boxes and just help in general.’’

‘‘It was an awesome community effort.’’

The school has plans for the 12 traps to help in the community.

‘‘In future we’re thinking of letting farmers or people in the area who may need them use them for a while so they can catch pests too,’’ she said.

‘‘Farmers can just buy the contraption to go inside and we can supply the boxes.’’

‘‘It’s a good way to stay connected and even further our connection in the community.’’

The school had traps installed on the premises already, borrowed from families of pupils which had caught a stoat last Tuesday.

Kees Vangool, 10, said they were learning more about pests.

‘‘I already know about possums because we catch them on our farm, but not much about stoats,’’ he said.

‘‘I learned so far that some areas are pest-free and some aren’t.’’

‘‘There are also lots of native birds around, including kereru ¯ at our school. We’ve got two big fat ones in our trees.’’

‘‘My dad came to take care of the stoat we caught.’’

The pupils were putting finishing touches to the traps last week.