School reclaims outdoor space
On the surface Grey Lynn School is much like any other inner-city school.
But hiding on its south-western edge is an urban forest rooted in the school's 103-year history.
The school held an official opening for its forest development on February 28.
A walking and cycling track, fale, outdoor classroom and fernery have been introduced to the old plantation complementing the two-storey block of classrooms built last year.
Trees were planted during the early years of the Surrey Cres school to add to the area's existing planting.
Students of teacher Alexander De Montalk planted a puriri tree as he left for World War I and over the following years more were planted in recognition of war heroes and the Red Cross.
But by the late 1990s the plantation was in a poor state. Rubbish was scattered across it and old trees were missing having been pulled down or blown over in storms.
Principal Bill Barker and parent Bronwyn Banks set about nurturing the area in 1999 to transform it into the forest that stands today.
The Ministry of Education was on the brink of closing the school down because of its dwindling roll when Mr Barker took over in 1998.
"It was important for us to have a design that was placed as close to the forest as we could, so then the kids are looking out into it," Mr Barker says.
"Sometimes you can be in those classrooms, you can be looking out the windows and see wood pigeons eating and it's lovely."
Auckland City Harbour News