A unique piece of native New Zealand bush harbouring snails and other wildlife is proving popular with students from the neighbouring Poroutawhao School near Levin.

The eco-system of the swampy Ngawakahiamoe Bush is unique as it has never been burnt off, so exists largely as it always was - great news if you're a snail.

The 8ha bush is also known for its strand of pukatea – a swamp tree with buttress roots – its mini native snails, and its association with the famous warrior, Te Rangihaeata.

Poroutawhao School principal Lyndon Cooney said students walked 2.5km to the Ngawakahiamoe Bush, which sits on farmland behind the school, and bush visits help to give them a sense of connection to the land.

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"This excursion was part of our tūrangawaewae unit on identity and knowing where we are from," he said.

Poroutawaho School students walk through Ngawakahiamoe bush.
Poroutawaho School students walk through Ngawakahiamoe bush.

"Students are taught the concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and are considered part of a group of kaitiaki of this area."

Cooney said Poroutawhao School and Ngawakahiamoe Bush have a long connection.

"We were very lucky to have been joined on the day by Heather Heron-Speirs who not only grew up on the farm but has become a wealth of knowledge on the species within the bush," he said.

With the help of family and community members, Heron-Speirs has worked hard to conserve the bush as a community asset in recent years.

Ngawakahiamoe is the remnants of the bush that once covered a major part of the Poroutawhao District and is what gave the area its name Poroutawhao, which translated to "on the edge of the bush".

While in the bush students collected leaf samples and took many photos to examine back in class.

Porouwahao School students on a walk through the unique Ngawakahiamoe bush.
Porouwahao School students on a walk through the unique Ngawakahiamoe bush.

Meanwhile, the Ngawakahiamoe Bush Trust was created recently, and has now received charity status, and is working to soon acquire the land on which the bush is situated, he said.

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The students are central to the trust's vision, which is also keen to build a 'friends of the bush' group to do further regeneration projects.

The trust has already received the support of local people, businesses and Horowhenua District Council.

Poroutawhao School is 8km north of Levin and has a roll of 130.

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