More than 180 students from schools around the Bay of Plenty have enjoyed discovering how to monitor and care for their local waterways.

The 8 to 12-year-olds were participants in an annual Hands-on Water Expo, hosted at Redwood Valley Farm in Paengaroa by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, yesterday and today.

Bay of Plenty Regional Community Engagement Advisor and event co-ordinator Natalie Ridler said looking after waterways was everyone's business.

"The kids that joined us today have had fun, while learning what aquatic insects, eels and pest fish look like, discovering what the main causes of flooding, water pollution and how to control them are, and gaining the skills to measure things like stream flow, clarity, and rainfall.


"The participants come as representatives from their schools and will go home and share what they've learned with their classmates, families and wider communities. We've been running the event for several years now.

"We usually see a few schools inspired to set up monitoring and stream care projects in their local waterways afterwards, which is a fantastic outcome," Ridler said.

Blake Bain from Te Puke Primary School holds up a dragonfly during the
Blake Bain from Te Puke Primary School holds up a dragonfly during the "How healthy are our streams?" activity presented by Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Photo / Supplied

Examples include the Ngākau Māhaki class at Te Puke Primary that set up a care group to help look after the Ohineangaanga Stream last year, and St Thomas More Catholic School in Mt Maunganui which has been monitoring a Tauranga Harbour estuary site at Matapihi since 2015.

The council has co-ordinated the Hands on Water Expo, delivered in partnership with NZ Landcare Trust, Department of Conservation, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Emergency Management Bay of Plenty, Maketū Ongatoro Wetland Society, and Hemi O'Callaghan who each run one of 11 activity stations that the children rotate through in the course of the day.

Ridler said they were really grateful to the event partners as well as the teachers and parent helpers that make the expo possible.

"Yesterday's students had a great time and we know they'll be fabulous water ambassadors as a result. We're looking forward to doing it again in years to come."