Mangaiti Gully Restoration at Rototuna Primary

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.

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Heading into the gully to begin planting

Gully path with Reed Sweet Grass (Glyceria maxima)

Full of weeds – Glyceria maxima, on the left hand side, prior to planting.

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




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