Vandals ruin dream
A mindless act of school holiday vandalism at McLennan Park has the kids at Papakura Normal School seeing red.
Students planted 400 native plants at the Old Wairoa Stream in early June with the Auckland Council Wai Care programme.
But a Wai Care co-ordinator checked on the plants in the holidays and found about 300 had been pulled out and chucked in the stream.
Teacher Lois Williams says a neighbour and several children who confronted the vandals were threatened.
"I'm shocked and disappointed to think that anyone would undo all the good work children have done," Ms Williams says.
The stream was warm and inhospitable to native fish four years ago when its banks were bare, she says.
But there have been major improvements since the school adopted the waterway and started nursing it back to health.
Trees and flax now line the banks and students come to the stream weekly to monitor pH and water temperature, which is steadily cooling as the trees grow.
That's great news for the native fish and plants that are slowly re-colonising the stream.
Eleven-year-old Chelsea Edel helped plant the vandalised trees. She's angry at the culprits and can't understand why they would do this in their own neighbourhood.
If she met them face-to-face Chelsea would explain that it's not just about making the park look nice.
"It's to keep the fish in the stream alive by shading the stream. If the stream gets too hot they'll overheat," she says.
"I wish they would just leave it alone."
The school's done such a good job restoring the stream that it's a finalist in the 2012 Sustainable Environment Awards.
Council manager Janis McArdle says the area will be replanted after the police investigate.
It's the first serious incident at McLennan Park during the four years Wai Care has been working there. Ms McArdle says: "Behaviour of this nature is the exception, not the norm.
"It is hard to fully protect plantings in public spaces.
"We do receive reports from vigilant neighbours who use our parks and reserves, which helps us monitor our plantings."
Ms McArdle says anyone who sees vandalism should report it to the council or police.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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