An outdoor classroom in the Kaitawa Reserve, Paraparaumu, has been officially opened.

The Kaitawa Outdoor Classroom, featuring 34 interpretive signs, has been developed by Friends of Kaitawa Reserve with support from Kapi-Mana Forest and Bird and Kāpiti Coast District Council.

The signs highlight various sections of the reserve from trees, fish, birds, swamp areas, weeds/pests.

Kaitawa Reserve's significant transformation dates back to the mid 1990s when council was considering slicing up parts of the area for housing.

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The late Molly Neill was aghast so she led the charge to protect the area, which was successful, leading to many volunteers working diligently to create a natural wonderland.

About 1200 volunteer hours goes into the reserve each year as people including Friends of Kaitawa Reserve as well as Kapi-Mana Forest and Bird members plant, prune, and weed the area.

The area, once a haven for gorse, blackberry and wandering jew, now has in excess of 150 native tree species, and more than 50,000 species had been planted.

A flowering kohekohe which is one of three cauliflori in New Zealand, which involves the process of flowering from the trunk and stems.
A flowering kohekohe which is one of three cauliflori in New Zealand, which involves the process of flowering from the trunk and stems.

It was in tip-top condition for the outdoor classroom opening on Wednesday attended by various volunteers, a selection of Paraparaumu School pupils as well as Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan.

He praised the volunteers' "commitment to Mother Earth".

"Thank you very much for what you have done."

And he noted the transfer of knowledge to younger generations.

"We live in a time when there is a great danger to Mother Earth...across this country and the world the young people are standing up and saying we have to do something.

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"What you are doing is very timely," he said.

Tony Ward, a Kapi-Mana Forest and Bird committee member, thanked the input from the council.

"Without that support we couldn't have done this."

He praised the many people who had contributed to the reserve's revival.

"The whole objective has been to retain this piece of native bush and to ensure that it continued and prospered in its battle with gorse and blackberry, and to provide an opportunity for young people to come and learn about nature.

"And that's what we were on about from the start and were still on about now.

"There's still work to do and we will be creating material to help teachers use this resource.

"And we've got the ongoing battle with pests and weeds."