Schoolchildren take first steps to transform Bluff Hill

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2012
  	 Delta Roderique
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

HILL MAKEOVER: St Theresa's School pupils Delta Roderique, left, and cousin Zarah Roderique, both 8, and Environment Southland environmental education officer Nikki Tarbutt plant native seedlings on Bluff Hill yesterday.

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Pupils at St Theresa's School in Bluff decided to improve the "ugly" hill, when asked what issue they wanted to tackle in the town.

Teacher Rosi Coyle said pupils thought the hill had looked ugly since trees had been felled there, and they wanted to do something about.

The children researched what birds they wanted to attract and what native trees would be best to achieve that, she said.

They also wanted to help get rid of possums on the hill.

After getting support from the World Wildlife Fund and Kids Restore New Zealand – an Air New Zealand Environment Trust initiative – the school raised $5500 for the project. Of this, $3000 went toward native plants, and the rest was spent on possum and rat traps, monitoring stations and tracking tunnels.

The pupils would collect seeds from plants growing on the hill and grow them at school for planting next year, she said.

"It's ongoing and sustainable."

The pupils were also making a short film on the project.

Yesterday, the school's 32 pupils, as well as Invercargill City Council parks staff, got involved in the planting.

Council parks landscape planner Sheryll Ashton said staff would also be planting 2500 plants grown by the council nursery during the day. About 3000 plants were planted yesterday, including toi toi, flax, wineberry, hebe, pittosporum and rata.

Ms Ashton said there was still a lot of work to be done developing a strategy for long-term use of the land on Bluff Hill, but people did not want forestry over the whole area again, she said.

She was impressed at the "amazing" rate of natural revegetation on the hill.

Bluff School also had its own nursery and planted around the Returned and Services Association area, she said.

Environment Southland staff, the Enviroschools co-ordinator, city council parks staff, Southland Girls' High School students, and Bluff community members also took part in the planting.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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