Green was the theme when Whenuakura School in Patea celebrated World Environment Day last week.

Students dressed in grassy colours and took part in activities devised to protect not only New Zealand, but also the whole world.

Principal of Whenuakura School Kat Haerewa said celebrating the day was a real eye-opener.

"As staff, we decided that the day was something we wanted to celebrate and we talked about it a lot.


"In the end we said, really, celebrating the Earth and celebrating the environment and getting our learners to do the same should be something we do every single day."

Whenuakura students followed the three Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle.
They reduced rubbish on the day by having rubbish-free lunchboxes.

Then they had a toy swap, so playthings could be reused. "We buy so much, often things that we don't need. And then we throw them away when we're finished," Haerewa said.

"We encouraged the students to bring in an old toy they might normally throw away, that the other kids might like and it was good for them to see that just because they don't want it anymore, doesn't mean it's useless."

Next, students used recycled materials to make a planet Earth. They wrote environmental messages on it and put it on display.

Finally, they planted trees awarded to them through the Paper4trees programme, which encourages paper recycling and rewards schools for their efforts.

The day tied in well with Whenuakura School's recent inquiry into the community's waterways, where students visited the Whenuakura and Patea rivers and Patea Dam and came up with plans for protecting the waterways.

They also had a mufti day and the donations made were given to the South Taranaki Reef Life project. "They were so excited. We're a uniform school so for them to be in mufti, they went all-out - one boy came dressed as a duck-shooter in a camouflage bush outfit," Haerewa said.

"The project is special to the community, especially in light of the drilling at Patea Beach."

South Taranaki Reef Life project lead Karen Pratt worked with some of the students at the beach and got them involved in cleaning it up.

"They are very interested naturally in the world around them and they like it when they can learn off other experts and make a difference in their community," Haerewa said.

"We're just really trying to instil in them that their actions can make a difference."