Pupils at Kerikeri Primary school are making waves.
They are researching oceans and waterways that feed them and have adopted the Wairoa Stream that flows behind their school.
A nearby waterfall is one of Kerikeri's best-kept secrets.
It is as high as the Rainbow Falls and just as awe-inspiring in full flood.
The students' investigations led them to ask questions about where the stream begins, how they can use it and how clean it is.
They aim to make it more accessible for the community.
They have tested the water quality with the help of Susan Botting from the Northland Regional Council.
The year 5 and 6 syndicate has also visited the Kerikeri River to see the effects of farming and erosion and visited two farms to find out how planting can help waterways.
The children have written letters to the Northland Regional Council and after watching a New Zealand-made documentary River Dog, they wrote to the farmer involved and the Wellington Regional Council.
The pupils will help restore the Wairoa Stream at its source on Marty Robinson's farm.
Principal Paul Lindsay is pleased with the children's efforts.
"I am delighted that our local waterways are being used as such authentic context for students' learning.
"Wairoa Stream is a stunning example of such a waterway," he says. "Kerikeri Primary School is committed to taking on the role of kaitiaki (guardian) to protect the wairua (spirit) of Wairoa Stream now and in the future."
RIVERBANK TRACK HISTORY
The Wairoa riverbank was part of an old Maori track to Waimate North.
On May 3, 1845, it was used by the 400-strong detachment of troops under Colonel Hulme to transport cannon and supplies from Onewhero Bay to Waimate North in preparation for an attack on Hone Heke's pa at Puketutu on the banks of Lake Omapere.
The walkway fell into disuse until it was rediscovered by the citrus growers who arrived in Kerikeri in the late 1920s.
The two swimming holes were popular with the early orchard workers.
Conservationist Richard McIntosh worked on planting the stream banks several years ago and encouraged opening up access to some outstanding sites, including the waterfall.
The Wairoa Stream project was first tabled as a community board item in 2003. It was identified as a walkway priority in light of its value as a superbly scenic recreational area, and the council set aside $30,000 for it.
Vision Kerikeri later applied to the Walking Commission for a grant to make a start on planning the track along the stream to the waterfall.
Careful negotiations with private land owners continue, with the idea of creating a walking track along the stream, between a pedestrian bridge near Pa Rd and Cobham Rd.
- © Fairfax NZ News