Students transform the landscape at Waione

Published 04 Dec 2023

A few years from now, Blake Hewitt will be able to drive through Waione and say, “I planted those trees - that’s my forest!” Blake was among 40 year-10 students from Dannevirke High School who spent a hot morning planting out a cleanfill site on Route 52.
The students went to Ōhope for five days on 27 November, and the planting a few days beforehand served as a pre-camp warm-up and an ‘education outside the classroom’ experience.

Tararua Alliance purchases native plants through Woodville nursery Tararua Native Plants for planting on emergency works sites. As part of the Emergency Repairs funding that Waka Kotahi has supplied to Tararua district to fix its roads, there is an allocation for remediating sites, to put them back to a natural state through planting native vegetation.

There were about 1200 plants left at the end of the season that needed to be planted before the conditions got too hot. Pip Cook from Tararua Native Plants said, “The Alliance let us know there was an opportunity to plant them out with the students and the Waione site was ready to go.” The nursery Pip and her family operate is raising funds for a facility to support young people with disabilities in Tararua.

After getting a safety briefing from Tararua Alliance Project Manager Blake Hedley, the students split up into pairs and got stuck in. Three hours later, the landscape was peppered with manuka, pittosporum and flax.

Kaitiaki Patricia Harris says, “This was a great opportunity to have the future generation come through to Waione to tiaki our taiao. By planting natives to enhance the mauri of māmā Papatūānuku - whenua and awa Ākitio River. A great place for these tamariki to see the fruition of their hard mahi in the future. Thank you to DHS for sharing your manaakitanga, every one of you are kaitiaki.”
Patricia (“He uri ahau nō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua,” and an ex-student of Dannevirke High School) is taking a lead role in the environmental space at the Tararua Alliance in her role as Environmental Lead Cadet, a role that came about through a partnership with the Alliance and local iwi.

DHS Deputy Principal Matt Melvin thanked the students for a stellar planting effort, along with the Tararua District Council for supporting the collaboration, the Alliance team, Tararua Native Plants and Deans Earthmoving. Through the work done on the day, the students raised funds towards their camp, which Matt says will take some pressure off parents in the current economic climate while getting some really important work done for our environment.

If other schools in the district are interested in fundraising plantings next autumn, the Alliance will be identifying cleanfill sites that can be safely planted by students next planting season and encourages any schools who are interested to contact the Alliance.