A group of environmentally conscious Whangarei students have learned first hand that a bit of direct action can get things moving.

It follows a visit from the mayor to hear their concerns for the health of the stream that runs beside their school.

The pupils, all aged about 9, have been studying the Raumanga Stream that flows beside Hora Hora School for the past 18 months as part of a science project, teacher Suzie Gray said.

They were looking at the health of the stream, including checking for whitebait and the macroinvertebrates (insects, crustaceans, molluscs, arachnids and annelids) they fed on.


The youngsters were shocked to discover so much pollution in their part of the stream. They decided to look after the stream and wrote to Whangarei District Council seeking permission to become the kaitiaki - guardians - of the stretch of waterway.

Yesterday Mayor Sheryl Mai came to hear the children read their letters outlining their concern and to vow to help them, including possibly trying to get some funding to help their stream bank planting efforts.

"The children were shocked to find how much rubbish was polluting their bit of the stream, including a disgusting cow carcass, old TV and people using it to dump household rubbish," Mrs Gray said.

"But they saw that further up stream where it was cleaner there were more of those macroinvertebrates that would be a great food source for the whitebait, if they could get up that far past the pollution."

The pupils have spent a lot of time cultivating flax to plant along the stream bank and had also won about 140 native plants from AlterNatives and were keen to get them planted, but needed council permission.

"The children found it strange that there were two different councils responsible for the stream - Whangarei District Council for the banks and Northland Regional Council for the stream - and were delighted when the mayor came to hear their concerns," she said.

Mrs Gray said the children were pleased to learn that a bit of direct action could lead to changes and Ms Mai had complimented them on their work so far and even had her own connection to the stream.

"The mayor told them that when she was young she had planted trees on part of the stream near the visitors centre and she was delighted to hear that that part of the stream is very healthy."


The students hope to begin their planting programme soon.