What was the project about?
A critical aspect of any restoration activity is community engagement. When valued by the community, the restoration effort has a life beyond the end of the project. The area becomes a source of pride, is visited, cared for and maintained on an ongoing basis by members of the community. If children are engaged, they can develop a sense of ownership of an area, see the positive changes in the area over the years, and influence their parents to become involved.
Living Water wanted to engage local schools Ohaupo Primary, Melville Intermediate and Te Awamutu College to get them involved with restoration projects at the Waikato Peat Lakes.
How was the project undertaken?
The concept was to get as many school students as possible to visit the lakes and experience hands-on activities, such as planting, to get them engaged and excited to generate positive word of mouth about what they were doing to restore the lake environment. Local schools have a long history with Lake Ruatuna. Melville Intermediate School instigated building the Ruatuna amenity block in the 1990s with funding through the local Lions group, so environmental education could take place at the lake. On-going restoration work at the lake is creating a user-friendly outdoor classroom for the educational programmes of schools, DOC, and Enviroschool modules, creating lessons around nature, restoration, endangered species, pest control, water sampling, and Māori cultural values.
What did the project achieve?
There have been at least 25 school events at the Waikato Peat Lakes, and 20,000-30,000 plants have been put in by school visits. The Ruatuna amenity block has been upgraded with fencing, access, signage, new kitchen cabinets, concreting and foundations for outside tables, pest and wasp eradication, firewood, view enhancement, new fireproof mattresses, tree pruning and pest plant removal.
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING