A collaborative communities education project that empowers young people to lead community action in creating a healthy river.
This project is an opportunity for students to connect and collaborate with each other and develop as leaders.
There are over 100 schools and early childhood education centres within one kilometre of the awa/river. Many of these are taking action for the river or have connections to their river through their cultural narrative.
Our student leadership team (2020) includes representatives from five schools; Hillmorton and Cashmere High Schools, Our Lady of Assumption, Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto and West Spreydon primary school.
The project is a conservation education programme based on the Collaborative Community Education Model (CCEM), developed by Department of Conservation.
The framework endeavours to develop a programme that is an authentic, collaborative, student-led, continuous learning journey and provides teacher professional development and support.
Local school students have joined forces to lead community action to improve the health of the Ōpāwaho River. Over the past year, students from five local primary and secondary schools have been part of the Healthy Ōpāwaho education programme to help create a healthier river.
Education coordinator Sally Airey says this project has been a great opportunity for students to connect and collaborate with each other and develop as leaders.
“There are over 100 schools and early childhood education centres within one kilometre of the awa/river,” Ms Airey says. “Many of these are taking action for the river or have connections to their river through their cultural narrative.”
During the year, students attended a noho marae and hīkoi and planned projects with local community groups. Some of the actions included installing stormwater drain filters and organising rubbish cleanups with their school communities.
Students have also taken part in riparian planting, which involves planting the areas beside waterways with native plants that help filter sediment and debris out of stormwater, while also creating a natural habitat for native wildlife.
Ms Airey says the programme is now on hold until further funding is secured.
Led by: Working Waters Trust
Aim: Investigate the impact of riparian restoration projects on tuna / eel populations.
Students and community groups took part in a training session led by Working Waters Trust to learn how to install fyke nets and record data to monitor tuna-eels. Six sites along the Ōpāwaho were chosen, located beside existing community or school projects.
The students are interested in learning more and being involved in ongoing annual monitoring.
Led by: Cashmere High student leaders
Aim: Find out where litter comes from and what we can do to stop it entering the river
We have all been involved in picking up litter on the banks of our awa and we have all seen litter floating down our river. Where does it come from and how can we make a difference to the amount of litter going into our river? We decided to capture litter and sediment entering stormwater drains in schools and local businesses. Seven drain traps have been installed.
Students from four participating schools monitored these regularly over term four. The results will inform the actions the students will take next year (2021).
Led by: students with CCC rangers support
Aim: Restore and enhance the riverside habitat for tuna, river health and community.
Students from three participating schools are leading riparian restoration projects – taking on the planning, weeding and planting. Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto are at Beckenham ponds, Cashmere High School on Waimokihi Stream within their school grounds and Our Lady of Assumption are at Centennial Park.
“Planting builds community in our school and it connects us with our awa.” Emily
There are lots of other schools along the Ōpāwaho Heathcote river who are, or have been involved in, local riparian planting including Te Ara Koropiko West Spreydon, Rudolf Steiner, KidsFirst Ōpāwa, Te Waka Unua, Cherries, and many more who are interested in being involved.
The community restoration projects(external link) along the river have been the inspiration for many of these restoration projects.
Student leaders also created opportunities in their school to learn more about their awa by creating videos, plant bingo games and photo essays.
The project steering group is made up of representatives from:
"I live near the awa and bike or walk along it every day, and with my whānau have taken part in river clean-ups and other initiatives along the river.
I am inspired by the actions that our students have undertaken this year, and their passion to protect and enhance the health of the Ōpāwaho/Heathcote catchment."
Contact Sally by emailing Sally.Airey@ccc.govt.nz.