The Kids Discovery Plantout programme is a successful collaboration between Te Ara Kākāriki and Enviroschools and has been delivered to schools in the Selwyn District since 2015. It was established to allow children to interact with nature and provide them with opportunities to make a real difference to the natural spaces they feel connected to.
Students can learn about native biodiversity through taking on a role of tiaki tamariki, caring for their special biodiversity restoration site and together contributing to restoring native ecosystems across the Canterbury Plains.
Our Kids Discovery Plantout programme is coordinated by Lou Drage. With less than 0.5% of native vegetation left on the Canterbury Plains, she works with authorities to locate public sites that are suitable for planting habitat for biodiversity such as parks and reserves, school grounds and local waterways.
During a Kids Discovery Plantout day students lead action to restore habitat for biodiversity. This action is carried out within the context of their whole-school inquiry focus. Teachers share their sustainability focus with an Enviroschools Facilitator, and recent examples include water, native habitats, food, the impact of Māori and early European settlers on native biodiversity, community and connections and well-being. The facilitator then supports integration of the inquiry focus throughout the curriculum. The Action Learning Cycle guides the learning journey and strengthens students’ understanding and engagement with nature
Lou and the Enviroschools facilitator create a bespoke programme of hands-on activities to support each school’s inquiry focus. Activities provide students with opportunities to investigate biodiversity at the site, reflect on and problem solve an issue, and create something meaningful to the students.
Activities offered recently include learning traditional values of indigenous plants by creating waka hourea, weaving harakeke and investigating rākau rōngoa. Searching for terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and fish highlights the importance of restoring habitats for these taonga species. Students have also learnt to propagate plants from seeds and cuttings and monitor pest species.
Activity leaders include Mike Bowie from Lincoln University and Kaumātua Daphne O’Connell from Ngāti Moki marae. These people work hard to increase the students’ knowledge of New Zealand’s special heritage and ways we can all help look after it.
Every autumn a small group of enviro-students return to each site to carry out monitoring. They learn how to calculate plant survival and gauge whether water quality and bird and invertebrate presence has changed. Through monitoring the students can see the positive effects their planting contributes to the local environment as well as gaining skills in observation and recording.
We collaborate with our partners to provide regular maintainance of the planting sites until establishment. In 2022 this care resulted in a 97% survival rate of plants averaged across all sites, measured nine months after planting.
Our Kids Discovery Plantout Programme works with many schools across the Selwyn District. If your school isn’t already involved, please feel free to contact us and make an enquiry.
In order to add new schools, we need to secure funding, locate a suitable planting site ideally nearby, arrange resources and liaise with our partner organisations. Get in touch to start the process today.