Rototuna Primary School didn’t just have a planting day, they had a planting week. All 757 children took part in the marathon effort planting a total of 873 plants. It was a significant occasion on many levels, being the first planting since the school became part of Trees for Survival in 2013. Many older children had been involved in the pricking out and potting on process, and finally got the chance to plant their young trees in the ground.
The school is fortunate to have the Mangaiti Gully, part of Hamilton’s vast gully network, form part of its grounds. When the decision was made to get involved in its restoration and use it a hands-on learning opportunity, the Trees for Survival programme was an obvious fit.
The week began with Te Reo leader, Ngahuia Nuri and the Senior Te Reo group blessing the site. Some of the old school piu piu which were worn out or broken, where buried as part of the ceremony. On the Tuesday all of the senior classes had their turn and planted ti kouka, manuka, karamu and other trees on gully’s steep banks. On Wednesday the Middle classes filled in the gully sides and while the sun was shining, some of the junior classes came out to observe, draw and write about the plants being planted. On the Thursday and Friday the junior school planted plants on the gully floor. Every one had great fun getting stuck in and their hands dirty.
With such a large school, and a commitment to having every child involved in planting, careful planning and organisation was required. The management of the restoration is a real team effort. Berny Atkins oversees the management of the plant growing unit and care of the plants with students, with strong support from Principal Mike Sutton. Caretaker Neil Roberts makes certain that the watering system is always operating and supports, senior student, and committed environmental leader Lukas Rumsay to do regular tasks like fertilising. Late in 2014, it was apparent that many of the plants had out grown their PBs and needed some attention. The decision was made to re-pot before the summer holidays. Everyone was blown away by how much the plants had flourished when they returned to school in 2015.
With the schools first planting, successfully completed, the whole school is very excited about seeing the plants grow and the gully transform before their eyes!