Pāterangi School is developing its curriculum to incorporate nearby Lake Mangakaware and Waipā's unique landscape of wetlands, with a recent planting day at the lake one of the first major events.
Year 5-6 teacher Simon Drury organised the day's events, held with support from Waipā District Council.
Principal Mark Harrop says the school has been looking for ways to make stronger connections with the area.
"With the lake being just five minutes from the school, the planting day was a great way to set up a partnership with the restoration team from the council," he says.
Simon led a team of 42 Year 4-8 students, plus teachers and parents — most engaged with planting makura (Carex secta) — while some of the senior students were learning about harakeke (flax) and using it to create putiputi (woven flowers).
Waipā District's ecologist – wetlands and native reserves, Susan Emmitt, facilitated the project and provided the plants and the students received valuable assistance from Murray Davies, a contractor dedicated to saving peat lakes.
"The planting day is the first of what we hope to be many days of our school connecting with the lake and our local environment," says Simon.
"We hope to make the planting an annual event each summer."
Staff believe it is great way for them and students to put their School Values in action — perseverance, respect, integrity and responsibility — to make a positive contribution towards the community.
"In the future we envision our students doing wetlands studies and water quality testing while monitoring the lake's general health," says Simon.
"Other learning areas we hope to include are art, Māori, writing and mindfulness.
"We also see the lake as a way to help us learn about the rich history of our area both pre and post European settlement," he says.
"Hopefully it can be a vehicle for strengthening our ties with the Waipā Council and local hapu/iwi, Ngati Hikairo."