Nearly 800 children at Rototuna Primary School took part in the school’s second annual plant out of their school gully in May. Children and staff alike were gobsmacked by the change and growth that had happen since last year’s planting. 7 years ago, Principal, Mike Sutton, and Caretaker, Neil Robertson decided to clear the gorse, blackberry and overgrown stream with the aim of creating an outdoor learning and play area for the children.
In 2014 Rototuna Primary joined the Trees for Survival Programme and children are now fully involved in the propagation and restoration process pricking out seedlings, potting them on and transplanting them out in the gully. They learn about the different species they are growing, their purpose and what conditions they need to grow, and challenged themselves to start growing some species, like kowhai, from seed. They are learning about working as a community as they develop relationships with other groups and organisations that are restoring gullies in Hamilton like the Mangaiti Gully Restoration Group.
The children are doing their best to re-establish the gully and attract the native wildlife back into the area and take pride in their achievements, “We need to say Kia Kaha, when we’ve planted the plant.”
Over the past 2 years, the children have had the opportunity to watch skink (mokomoko) and cicadas in their natural environment and have added tracking tunnels to investigate what wildlife they have attracted. “The gully is flourishing,” the children said, when they found a golden bell frog. This year has seen the return of the tūī and pūkeko to the gully and the children enjoy showing their parents their achievements.
Lead teacher, Berny Koppens has been driving the project and always on the look-out for opportunities to deepen learning and connections with the gully. She co-wrote the following waiata which the whole school is learning to sing in term 2.
Ko Mangaiti te p/a/kohu Mangaiti is our Gully
Ko Rototuna a ta/tou kura Rototuna is our school
Ko Koura to tatou Tupuna Koura our ancestor
Me whakapiri kaiako ma Gather teachers
Ma runga i te aroha Join together in love
Ma te whenua, ma te whenua For our land, for our land
(ma te whenua e)
Ko Papatuanuku, Ko Ranginui, Mother Earth and Father Sky
Tiakitia i te whenua Watch over our land
Horahia i te aroha Blanket it with love
I te ua me te ra Give it rain and sun
Kia pakari te whenua Keep it fertile
Tihei mauri ora, tihei mauri ora Give it life
(Tihei mauri ora)
Haere mai Tamariki ma Come children
Ki te kainga o Tane Mahuta To Tane Mahuta’s home
Hei kaitiaki o te whenua Be the guardians of the land
Whakapakiri tinana Grow in strength
Kanikani i Mangaiti and dance in Mangaiti
Waiata aroha, waiata aroha sing a song of love.
(waiata aroha e)
Haere mai, kararehe ma Welcome animals
Rere mai tui ma, Tui and friends, fly this way
Ngōkingōki mai mokomoko ma Insects crawl in here
Tipu ake rakau nui Grow tall beautiful trees
Kia tau te rangimarie Living in harmony
Aroha atu, aroha mai Caring for each other.
(Aroha mai e)
Written by Berny Koppens and Kathleen Atkins
Translated by Kathleen Atkins
Thanks to Ngahuia Nuri, Rototuna Primary School