Weeding warriors

20:01, Nov 26 2012
Nina van Pallandt
Recovery: Renwick School pupils from left, Nina van Pallandt, Eve Goodall-Cromarty and Bryce Blackmore amongst the weeds they plan to clear as part of their School Creek restoration.

Pupils at Renwick School want the wider community to help them restore a neglected creek bordering the western boundary of the school grounds.

Pupils in a RAP (Renwick Accelerated Programme) Task Force identified School Creek's poor condition during a science study and decided to launch a restoration project.

Teacher Nic Walker helped them apply for funding from a Kids Restore New Zealand scheme, run by the Air New Zealand Environment Trust.

Trustee Ruud Kleinpaste was supportive but advised them to at least halve their initial request for a $50,000 grant and extend the restoration time frame from several months to several years.

Senior pupils initiating the restoration will have left Renwick School by then but their continued involvement in the project is encouraged.

The more community ownership there is, the more sustainable the restoration will be, says year 8 pupil Carlo Hengstler.


He and eight other year 7 and 8 RAP task pupils met in the school library at lunch time this week to talk about the creek.

Nina van Pallandt, in year 8, said its present state was "really unhealthy".

"It's used as a bit of a dump," she said. "People just dump their rubbish in it - and there are a lot of weeds."

Aquatic invertebrates collected by pupils from the creek were the sorts that thrive in polluted streams, like mud snails, said Bryce Blackmore, in year 8.

There were many mud snails in School Creek, the other children agree.

Pupils held brain-storming sessions using the "six thinking hats" format to draw up restoration plans, Carlo said. Different coloured hats represent different streams of thought, he adds: Feelings, facts, creativity, positives, negatives and overall conclusions.

He and Mr Walker penned a circular letter that was delivered to Renwick addresses, asking people for their ideas and support.

Someone from Morgan Nurseries spoke to the pupils about the best native plants to grow along the creek's riparian strips and offered to supply plants at discount rates. Bunnings has offered its support, too, and will help provide materials for weed clearance and native vegetation planting.

Once unwanted weeds have gone and native vegetation has been planted, pupils want to to replace the creek's population with nicer aquatic life like eels, trout - and whitebait.

Other plans include a bridge and a wooden platform pupils might use for art studies.

Tips on things to avoid doing were shared at an Enviro Schools' leadership day at Whites Bay.

Pupils from another school restoring a creek in their area told the Renwick team not to make their mistake and cover School Creek's muddy bottom with layers of stones.

It might seem a good way of filtering the water but stones in the other school's creek had drawn heat from the sun and warmed the shallow water so it was too hot for the aquatic life they wanted to attract.

The Marlborough Express