This Christmas, the Herald is featuring 12 charities which have been chosen to get a $10,000 grant from Auckland Airport, as part of its 12 Days of Christmas charity campaign. The $120,000 comes from generous travellers who donate money in globes throughout the airport.

Going to school is not always about being stuck inside a classroom all day.

Students at a number of schools in South Auckland are doing just the opposite; thanks to a charity that is helping kids learn more about the world outside of the classroom.

OKE Charity has built food gardens for several primary and intermediate schools in the area in the last few years.

Advertisement

Everything from cabbages and tomatoes to strawberries can be found in the raised garden beds and mini-greenhouses, which are all fully sustainable, built by the organisation.

OKE - the Māori word for oak tree - is one of 12 charities to get a $10,000 gift in Auckland Airport's 12 Days of Christmas initiative.

The grant will go towards purchasing timber, tools and other materials needed to build a full garden for a school next year.

Among students already enjoying their garden are children at Bairds Mainfreight Primary School, in Otara, who have had it for almost two years.

Bairds Mainfreight Primary School students Sulyne Mose, 11, Brayden Morgan, 11, Ali Ono, 10, Caitlin L.T, 11, and Onatia Ngaau, 11, in their OKE food garden. Photo / Greg Bowker
Bairds Mainfreight Primary School students Sulyne Mose, 11, Brayden Morgan, 11, Ali Ono, 10, Caitlin L.T, 11, and Onatia Ngaau, 11, in their OKE food garden. Photo / Greg Bowker

GIVING BACK TO THE SOUTHSIDE:

Principal Alan Lyth said the pupils who tended to the garden thoroughly enjoyed it and seeing the food it produced.

"They set up a pātaka (community storehouse or pantry) as a result. These kids decided that they would like to give back to the community.

"And it's the generosity of OKE that they could look to have access to this.''

Advertisement

An OKE app also allows children to use their tablets to identify the different seeds they have planted and when they need to be doing certain tasks for each plant.

Lyth said the pātaka, just down the road from the school, was so popular that there are now plans to set another one up on school grounds in the coming months.

OKE founder Paul Dickson, who refers to himself as the chief go-getter, said the produce planted very much reflected the community itself - with people from all backgrounds bringing foods to plant.

"The vegetables are about 5 to 10 per cent of what we can do in the garden.

"There are other things being taught here - social life skills, mental health and perspective.''