The 500 trees and shrubs planted by Koitiata Stream last week could be just the start of a 4km-long shaded corridor for fish and eels.

The planting work was done by Year 8 pupils from Huntley School, with help from Fonterra and Horizons Regional Council staff. The land was part of hundreds of hectares near Santoft that farmed by the OB Group and co-owned by Stuart Taylor and John O'Brien.

The site planted by the pupils on Tuesday last week was about 1km downstream from Lake Heaton, Mr Taylor said. The stream was already fenced and the regional council gave a grant for the plants.

Fonterra provided chocolate milk for the children. Their teacher Anne Gardiner-Taylor said the experience gave them a better understanding of how planting along waterways helps improve fish habitats and water quality.

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The OB Group farms at Santoft are mainly on irrigated sand country - not the easiest for dairy production. The OB Group uses more drought tolerant species of broom and deep-rooted tall fescue to keep production going.

Mr Taylor said some changes had been made in response to the lower milk price - mainly a bit less feed provided and slightly smaller herd numbers.

Horizons freshwater co-ordinator Clare Ridler said native fish such as eels, bullies and inanga were known in the stream. The planting will eventually provide shade to keep water cooler, and fish passages and pools to rest in will be provided.