Classroom extends to the outdoors
Riverdale School pupils have taken over parts of Bill's Bush behind Palmerston North's Buick Cres as their outdoor classroom.
In a nature study lesson organised with the Friends of Waitoetoe Park, the children made the short walk to the wilderness park already being discovered by more people since the riverside path was opened this summer.
There they teamed up with neighbours and volunteers to learn about the native bush established by the late Bill Regnault and still cared for by friends, including one of the day's tutors, Don Scott.
Under his guidance, the children collected leaves from totara, lacebark, kawakawa, karaka, kahikatea and rimu, and the berries of the puriri, much loved by wood pigeons.
As a bonus, Mr Scott's group was shown a secret pathway to his own backyard, where beehives, weta and abandoned birds' nests added to the sense of discovery.
Bringing more people into the park is part of a plan by the Friends group, who last year took part in a place making project. Their ideas include more signage to explain the history of the developing stand of native forest, furniture, planting, and development of a wild foods area.
City council leisure assets planner Jeff Baker said there was general consensus about improving access to the park, increasing the amount of planting in some areas, such as along the new track, and putting out more information.
"We are trying to reinforce the quality of what is already there, such as the open meadows. It's not going to be a transformation. The place is getting a bigger audience now, and we want people to enjoy it and appreciate it."