One of the Ohaupo peat lakes is benefiting from the Good To Grow Partnership between the Departments of Conservation (DOC) and Corrections, with community work teams helping out at Lake Ruatuna.

DOC partnership development advisor Wayne Green says the extra effort is welcome.

"There is a power of work going on at this lake to improve public access, biodiversity and water quality," says Wayne.

"Significant investment is being made through the Living Water Partnership between DOC and Fonterra, expertise from DOC staff and environmental consultants, groundwork from contractors and volunteers.

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"Now with the extra help from the Te Awamutu Corrections Community work team we can achieve much more.

"The community work team has already been involved in planting, painting, firewood gathering and site clean ups and there are plans to widen the scope of work to include decommissioning old fence lines and pest trapping."

But Wayne says it's not simply a case of utilising the offenders to supply more hands.
"We want the teams to be really engaged and to learn about the environmental values at the site," he says.

"We're also ensuring there are some skills training — so if we have fencing to decommission when it's replaced, we want the tradie to show them fencing as an employment skill. It's the same with painting — we'll bring in a trades trainer to show them the proper gear to use for the job.

"We've already had one of our Rangers talk to the team about Puwheto or Spotless Crake, which is an important indicator for the health of the biodiversity there. "

Corrections Central Regional Commissioner Terry Buffery says meaningful projects like this help offenders with their rehabilitation and reintegration.

"This is an opportunity that provides offenders with education and skill development to equip them for future employment while giving them a chance to make a contribution to their community," he says.

"We understand the importance of environmental sustainability and are incredibly proud to be working alongside DOC to help restore and maintain this site."

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