Pupils ready for Eye On Nature environmental expo

Among the Dawson Primary School pupils looking forward to showing off their vegetables in the wearable art competition ...
Chris Harrowell

Among the Dawson Primary School pupils looking forward to showing off their vegetables in the wearable art competition at this year's Eye On Nature environmental expo are, from left, Rachael Raheke, Taylar Tapara, and Shania Raheke.

Taylar Tapara isn't one to back down from a challenge.

The 8-year-old pupil at Dawson Primary School in Otara will publicly model a white chef's outfit covered in vegetables as part of this year's Eye On Nature environmental expo.

Thousands of students from 50 local schools are involved with the initiative, which has the theme 'Edibles: From the Ground to the Table'.

Dawson Primary School pupils are growing vegetables in unusual containers including empty egg shells and a hollowed out ...
Chris Harrowell

Dawson Primary School pupils are growing vegetables in unusual containers including empty egg shells and a hollowed out pumpkin for the expo.

It's run by the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust and held at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa from March 28 to April 1.

The expo includes three school-only days and features educational activities including bush walks, seedling plantings, learning about native bugs with naturalist Ruud Kleinpaste, making the most of leftover food, cooking demonstrations, cultural performances and a recycled fashion show.

The Dawson Primary pupils are among those contesting the expo's wearable art competition.

Teacher Debbie Davies says they've constructed a portable garden named Dawson's Nursery.

It's home to lettuce, radishes, beetroot and peas that are growing in objects such as hollowed out pumpkins, empty egg shells and a traditional Maori kete bag made of flax.

"They punctured tiny holes in the bottom of the shells, wash the inside and then puncture another hole for drainage," Davies says.

"When it comes time to plant it they will crush the eggshell and that fertilises the plant."

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Taylar will wear the chef's uniform onto which the vegetables will be stitched for the wearable art contest.

She and her classmates say the project has been a mixture of fun and hard work and they're "totally" hoping to win.

"What they get out of it is the creativity," Davies says.

"They spent weeks trying to decide what we were going to do.

"The participation, excitement, and the planning.

"They just love doing it and learn so much through interactive work."

Students from the school's SWANS class for children with additional needs helped with the project.

Eye On Nature's three school-only days are from March 28-30.

The expo concludes with a free family day at the botanic gardens from 11am to 8pm on April 1.

There will be entertainment, hands-on arts and crafts, games, prizesĀ and food and people are welcome to take along a picnic.

Six environmental organisations from around New Zealand partner with the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust to host the event which is supported by Auckland Council, the six south-east local boards and the botanic gardens.

 - Stuff

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