Hawkes Bay App | Environmental messages making a difference at Onekawa School

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Environmental messages making a difference at Onekawa School

Green fingers – Seth Gibson & Zack Burton, pictured, working in one of Onekawa School’s vegetable gardens.

Environmental messages making a difference at Onekawa School

Hawke's Bay App

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 4:22 PM


Sustainable use of rainwater is benefiting Onekawa School children, as well as contributing to valuable life skills and helping to protect the environment.

A 1000 Litre water tank at has been installed at the Napier school, with financial support from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s LEAF Fund (Local Environmental Action Fund). The tank captures rainwater from the school library’s roof and is used for watering five thriving raised vegetable beds. Students are very willing to spend time in this area and enjoy their produce in baking.

It fits the stormwater campaign in Napier, run jointly by the regional council and Napier City Council since last year. It encourages the community to think carefully about how what they put into the city’s waterways and drains affects the quality of the water in the sea and Ahuriri estuary (Te Whanganui a Orotū). Both Councils say it’s important everyone knows what goes on the ground can contaminate stormwater – only rain should go down the drain.

Over the past three years Onekawa School’s Assistant Principal Tim Race, and students have been developing sustainability practices at school. Besides rejuvenating the school’s vege gardens and installing the rainwater tank, they have also undertaken a beach clean up at Westshore Beach, and enjoyed doing the Regional Council’s Drain Detectives Stormwater Education activity.

The main group of children involved with sustainability, now in Year 6, proved their commitment to the cause by not only pitching in to help build the bed frames, but by spending the better part of a day transporting soil for the gardens by bucket to the final site.

Tyler Titter, one of the Year 6s who has helped develop the school’s sustainability practices, sums up some of the reasons why they want to do this work. “Last year we found out about how water is going out to the ocean and killing animals and the rubbish going into the ocean’s garbage patch. It’s good to use this water so we’re not taking water from the aquifer, and it’s chlorine free.”

Connor Sherriff, Zack Burton, Seth Gibson and Tyler Titter taking turns to fill their watering cans from Onekawa School’s rainwater tank.

For the kaitiaki group which waters gardens at school during lunchtimes, using a tank to fill their watering cans with has also been a novelty. “It’s amazing to think this tank can be filled in just a couple of good downpours – and it collects water from a quarter of the library roof. It’s really changed the whole way we use the gardens,” says Mr Race.

The next stage of development is to install a water pump to make that part of the process easier, he adds.

The LEAF fund supports schools, non-profit groups and small businesses with environmental projects and it has helped dozens over the years, says Sally Chandler, Community Engagement Coordinator at Regional Council. So far, this financial year the fund has supported Eskdale School, Pukehamoamoa School, Taraia Marae, City Children’s Centre and Onekawa School.

“It is good to see first-hand what has materialised from our contribution,” she says.

For more information about the stormwater campaign, go to www.napier.govt.nz keyword search #cleanwaterways.

For more information about environmental resources, including Drain Detectives, go to www.hbrc.govt.nz search keyword #educationresources.

For details about the LEAF fund and other community partnerships, use the keyword search #community.

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