A history of student leadership
Whilst Korokoro School is relatively new to the Enviroschools kaupapa, they are a great fit, already known throughout their local community as a school that grows curious, considerate and confident tamariki who are passionate about learning how to care for their surroundings.
Their Enviro Group has been a part of the school for a number of years, originally established with the support of kaiako Karen Houghton and grandparents of tamariki at the school.
The Enviro Group is made up of student leaders who have a passion for the environment and take on the added responsibility of sharing this passion with the wider school, especially their younger teina.
So when Enviroschools Te Awakairangi facilitators Chloe Bisley-Wright and Michelle Ducat helped to set up a learning day in nearby Percy Scenic Reserve, Korokoro tamariki were the perfect choice to take a lead role in the event.
An event at Percy Reserve – a child’s ultimate playspace
Students from neighbouring Enviroschools were invited to participate alongside Korokoro students and Hutt City Council staff partnered with Enviroschools to provide a “messy day” of learning in Percy Scenic Reserve.
Percy Scenic Reserve is named after the Percy family who were pākehā settlers in Te Awakairangi. The Percy family lived in the area from the 1840s and established a large collection of trees which includes a number of native flora and fauna.
The reserve acts as a green heart which connects the Western Hills suburbs through its artery-like trails. The reserve is a child’s ultimate play space. It includes rock walls, caves and a waterfall. It also houses a nursery in which native species are raised to support the natural regeneration in Te Awakairangi. Part of the nursery holds an important collection of rare and endangered plants from the Greater Wellington region and from other threatened ecosystems across the motu.
For some of the local children, the reserve is a familiar place; it is used for weekly nature walks, kindergarten picnics, cross country practice and adventurous shortcuts from home to a friend’s house.
Students bring the reserve to life
One of the main aims of the event was to connect the students who are in the Western Hills to each other and also to allow the students who are well acquainted with the Reserve to guide those who are less familiar with the space. The Enviro Group leaders from Korokoro School thoroughly enjoyed being guides for their neighbouring Enviroschools.
“We shared all we knew and there was time to share more!”- Korokoro School Greenie Group Leaders
Hutt City Council (HCC) Ecologist and Horticulture Advisor, Jonathan Frericks helped run the event alongside the tamariki and Enviroschools Facilitators and HCC Community Ranger. Jonathan highly valued the opportunity, saying that the event really brought the space to life with energetic and exploring minds.
“It’s great to show the tamariki how diversity in nature is precious and that every plant has its place – and it’s amazing to see them connect it to their experiences and thoughts about diversity in their own lives.” – HCC Ecologist and Horticulture Advisor, Jonathan Frericks
Leadership grows everyone’s knowledge – the leaders and the led
Korokoro students facilitated an interactive tree scavenger hunt alongside Hutt City Council and Enviroschools staff who ran workstations throughout the day which focused on predator trapping, rare alpine collections and getting to know the wētā in the cave.
The scavenger hunt was an extension of a tree walk activity that Korokoro students have developed at their own school where the native trees in the school grounds are labelled with their names. The students have developed the walk activity with the assistance of their lead teacher, Louise Peirce.
“We have done a walk around our school and made name tags that we attached to the trees around the school so that students could learn the names of the trees” – Louise Pierce, Korokoro Enviroschools Lead Teacher.
The Percy Scenic Reserve version of the scavenger hunt involved student leaders taking participants through a guided tour of the native trees in the reserve. Students said that the experience grew their own knowledge as they were asked questions that they didn’t know the answers to which led to them returning to school to undertake more research.
“We loved the experience of being leaders and hope we get to do it again”- Korokoro Students
The other participating schools also gained a lot from the event. Kelson School, Maungaraki School and Imagine Childcare all sit along the Puke Ariki hills and this event provided a chance to learn more about their local area and add to their knowledge kete.
“We didn’t know the info the Korokoro students gave, the trees here are the same as the ones at our school and our classes are named after them”-Kelson School Students
Enviroschools Te Upoko O Te Ika A Māui look forward to seeing more from the empowered students of Korokoro School as they grow in their sustainability journey.
Korokoro School joined Enviroschools in 2018 with an already strong sense of sustainability and an existing student-led Enviro Group.
Lead teacher, Louise, has found the resources from Enviroschools have assisted in embedding sustainability and the philosophy of Enviroschools into their curriculum. As a school that was already doing a lot of work in this space, their focus has been on growing leaders and increasing their community engagement.
Korokoro School also recently held a planting day in Belmont Reserve with the assistance of Greater Wellington Regional Council and super grandparent helpers Clive and Sue Woodward.
Clive and Sue have gifted half of their nearby section to the school to provide space for the children to carry out various Enviro Group projects and Clive has assisted in the seedling project at the school. The project involves collecting seedlings locally and then raising them in the school shade house.