A living retaining wall made of 100 punga logs is the next step in Hamilton East Primary School's nature trail rejuvenation.
The school's Enviro Team are excited to move onto the next phase of the nature trail project with the acquisition of the logs made possible by a Trust Waikato grant.
The logs will form a living retaining wall that will strengthen the switchback-style zig-zag trail that connects the main school area at the top of the hill to the lower playing field called Putikitiki.
The Enviro Team, the school's student environmental club led by teacher Olive Jones, have worked alongside a group of parents and teachers over the past 18 months in "a multi-stage rejuvenation project to improve and build on the characteristics of this area," said parent representative Megan Lyon.
"When I told my son and his friend that we were successful in getting the punga logs, they were high-fiving each other — they were really thrilled."
A dedicated group of families have been involved for the past 18 months and are pleased to have welcomed people from the community to support the project along the way.
The project has also received funding from Enviroschools, Environment Waikato, and an NZ Glass environmental grant which has allowed the school to hire Green Footprint gully restoration expert Tim Newton.
Ms Lyon said the trail effectively became closed for students five years ago after the embankment area was affected by drought, causing several mature trees to be uprooted and damage the track.
The trail deteriorated due to erosion and an insurgence of invasive weeds like tradiscantia, bear's britches and bamboo, meaning the area was desperately in need of some TLC.
"The nature trail has long been used as an opportunity to explore the natural environment within the safety of the school grounds," said Ms Lyon.
The pair said they hope that teachers will be able to conduct classes on the trail and the natural amphitheatre which the group plans to build on Putikitiki.
"When we put the track infrastructure together, we thought about the fact that, on the corner, if you're taking a class down, you might want to stop and talk," said Ms Lyon.
"It's just exploring that natural curiosity that children have.
"They have some awesome ideas and they really wonder about what might be living there, like bats or ruru."
Ms Jones, who has taught at the school for 19 years, said the 30-odd Year 4-6 students that make up the Enviro Team love being involved in the nature trail restoration plan.
"The students are actually getting to see what we talk about and want to do.
The 147-year-old school has 'green-gold' status with the Enviroschools programme with every student being involved in sustainable activities like bringing "nude food" to school and taking their waste home with them in a "rubbish-free philosophy".
The area is part of a green corridor that links Parana Park and Memorial Park to AJ Seeley Gully and the back of Hamilton Boys' High School grounds, with an underground stream called Gibbons Creek that feeds into the Waikato River.
Ms Jones and the group of parents working on the nature trail have run several 'working bees' events where the school community can roll their sleeves up and pitch in when they can.
"We have this environment here where we grow food in the garden, we're planting fruit trees, and we've got the nature trail," said Ms Jones.
"We're not just isolating learning to just these little classrooms."