Roslyn Primary school's new interactive TREEmendous outdoor learning space was launched last week with special guest Ruud 'The Bugman' Kleinpaste and his insect friends.
Roslyn School was one of four schools to win $10,000 towards creating an outdoor learning area this year thanks to TREEmendous – a joint initiative between the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson.
The school had originally planned its TREEmendous event in August, but Covid-19 restrictions meant visitors, including parents, were not allowed onto the school grounds.
Instead, the school worked in small groups of students with teachers over the last few months to transform a previously unused 1000m2 area of the school grounds.
More than 300 native trees as well as plants for Rongoā (traditional Māori herbal medicine) have been planted as well as a welcome archway and footbridge.
Bug hotels, birdhouses, sitting stumps, climbing rocks and an art installation to the area have been added to create additional learning opportunities.
Kleinpaste attended the open day to speak to the students about the bugs found in their backyard and why they are an important part of our ecosystem.
Horizons Regional councillor Fiona Gordon, and Paul Horton from Tanenuiarangi Manawatu Incorporated also visited and introduced the school to tuna (eels) and why they are so important to Māori and the health of our waterways.
They also talked about the Urban Eels Project – creating a safe haven for the tuna, which was completed earlier this year.
Roslyn School is a culturally diverse school that aims to support students in developing academic, social, cultural, and creative skills for a successful future.
Roslyn School principal Joanne How says the school grounds previously lacked an outdoor space that allowed students to foster a connection to the natural environment.
"The opportunity to not only have the hands-on experience of learning traditional planting, harvesting and uses for native plants, but to also build something that will benefit future generations of students is priceless," she said.
This is the last year TREEmendous will run in its current format.
It has been replaced by the Mazda FoundationTREEmendous Education Programme by the Mazda Foundation which is open to all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand.
The programme aims to help NZ schools develop student-led environmental sustainability projects with help from Kleinpaste.
Five schools will receive a visit from Mazda ambassadors, Kleinpaste and shark
scientist Riley Elliot who will engage with the whole school to inspire and encourage students to consider the importance of our environment and what they could do for their environment.
One of the five schools will also receive a $5000 cash grant from the Mazda Foundation.
Since 2007, TREEmendous has resulted in almost 40,000 native trees and shrubs being planted to create interactive outdoor learning spaces at more than 50 schools around the country.
Mazda Foundation chairman David Hodge says they are excited to continue helping Kiwi kids reconnect with nature and improve their environmental literacy through the TREEmendous Education Programme.
"In the last 12 years we've done some amazing things at schools and it's been so rewarding to help students around the country reconnect with nature.
"TREEmendous Education Programme is about creating hands-on learning opportunities and will not only create memorable learning opportunities, but also increase environmental literacy in schools."
Applications for a TREEmendous Education Programme close on November 30.
For more information and to apply, visit http://treemendous.org.nz/