A haka and "good energy" riverside planting by six schools along the banks of the Ohinemuri River were among the last events that will be led by outgoing Enviroschools co-ordinator Beccy Dove.
After a decade of environmental education, Dove is stepping down as co-ordinator of the programme for Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki.
Dove said while plant growth was slow, it was exciting to see what had been achieved in the decade.
"We're just starting but I know more people want to be involved. I've loved my work getting children connected outside to nature. Sustainability is becoming more understood and some schools are totally living that sustainable lifestyle in the school."
She joined students from Goldfields, Paeroa College, Paeroa Christian, St Josephs, Netherton and Paeroa Central Enviroschools and members of the community for a planting session supported by the Waikato Regional Council on Friday.
The riverside planting initiative was started four years ago with teachers from Paeroa College and Warren Coffey, the catchment manager for the regional council.
In 2017 Goldfields Special School partnered up with Paeroa College through the Trees for Survival Programme to continue the planting along the banks of the Ohinemuri adjacent to the Criterion Bridge at the entrance to the town.
These students grow the native plants from tiny seedlings to a suitable planting size.
Last year senior leaders from local schools also joined in to support the initiative and a new site has been planted along the section of river behind Te Pae o Hauraki Marae this year.
"Goldfields students provided the plants again, supplemented by some bigger trees from WRC, and, along with Paeroa College students, were out in force to support again and leaders from four other local Enviroschools were also part of it," says Dove.
The initiative is growing each year with members from local marae and stream-care groups now involved.
Dove says after fearing they might not be able to gather at all to get these plants in the ground this year because of the limitations of Covid, the group was blessed with a gorgeous sunny day.
It opened with a karakia from Larn Wilkinson and students got the plants in in record time with high energy and a spirit of enthusiasm.
"The plants from the past plantings are growing well and students are learning to understand how the health of the river, and therefore the life in the river, will be enhanced by this growing edge of natives," she says.
"The Ohinemuri is the river that many of these children connect with in their whakapapa and enjoy to swim in during summer so it's great that they are able to be part of keeping it clear and clean for nature and future generations."
Dove plans to take a term off but hopes to continue in some way with environmental education.