Taminuiterā: Qualities of light, energy, and radiance
It was fitting that the rays of Tamanuiterā sparkled through the recently mulched ngahere. Pīwakawaka flitted and chirped as Matua Kevin finished his karakia, blessing the new pou.
Paparahi Pīwakawaka is the bush track at the top of the field at Manchester Street School, Feilding, where students, staff and whānau assembled with manuhiri for this moving start to the Green-Gold sharing and decision-making day.
We all shared a nourishing breakfast (read about the eggs later!) before the reflection team gathered to talk about the purpose and programme of the day. Over the rest of the morning we heard about a huge range of projects and practices that are part of the culture of Manchester Street School (MSS). They started their journey in 2002 and have slowly developed a place where young people come to learn and play in a natural and creative environment. Learning for sustainability is integrated into the curriculum and sustainable practices are part of everyday school life.
“Mahi taiao ako manga are very important. Each class has an enviro job they do for the school, allowing us to take responsibility and ownership of some aspects of our MSS environment” (Milla)
“We also look at the enviro jobs and how we can improve our practices. We review these each term. Each class has the freedom to change and improve the way they do their enviro job” (Michaela).
Manchester Street students and staff are guided by the Care Code rainbow. Red is for caring for each other, Yellow is caring about learning, Green is caring for the environment and Blue, the sea of life, is our future. These colours are evident throughout the MSS built environment.
Enviro action days are held each term organised by Nga Rōpū Taiao (envirogroups). This term the date coincided with KNZB clean-up week so the whole school participated in a litter clean-up around Feilding.
Each class has a garden to care for. Students are responsible for planting, weeding, watering and maintaining their garden.
Throughout the year the Green Team students grow plants for the annual Plant Sale. The school nursery is an impressive reuse of the old pool, set up for propagation, potting and growing on. Students are also involved in the planning for the day. Students, staff and the MSS Fundraising Group help on the day.
The kai gardens, tended by the students with the help of Sandra, a grandmother helper, are fed with school compost and watered from rain collected in a tank next to the sheds.
“Each week we weed the gardens and check for any signs of bugs or disease. We can take produce home that we grow. Sometimes we sell it at the plant sale table outside Room O. Sometimes we cook it up and eat it. Sometimes we just pick it and eat it straight away! If we have a lot, we donate it to the Manchester House Food Bank” (MMS students).
Some other aspects of Manchester Street School life we heard about…. In the words of the students:
“We have a focus each year that is embedded in everything we do. This year the whole school has been looking at Me in My Environment – enjoying the outdoors, getting out and being in nature but making sure everything we do has a positive impact on our beautiful environment.” (Susanna-Grace)
“In 2016 we started our chicken journey. We now have 6 bantam hens, 3 of the originals and 3 from Mrs Palmer’s mum. They are school pets. We love them dearly. They free range around the grounds every single day. They eat bugs (and unfortunately sometimes the veggies). They also get fed scraps from our food buckets. Our hens lay daily (your breakfast and lunch were made using these fresh free-range eggs)! Anyone is allowed to pick the hens up and cuddle them, but the coop is out of bounds. It is their time-out zone. There are chicken monitors who look after the coop, eggs, food and clean up duty. Mrs Palmer’s class is a chicken friendly zone. The bantams join her class daily for learning time.” (Sophie and Milla)
Before Matua Kevin and Ari left, they were asked how they felt MSS were progressing with weaving Mātauranga Māori into school life. “Kei runga noa atu koutou!” Matua Kevin replied.
One aspect of the care code rainbow is the future: MSS students and staff had already considered what could help build depth and breadth of the Enviroschools Programme in their school and community. Some ideas include: solar panels, more pou for each kaitiaki, an Education for Sustainability trail around the school, heritage gardens, more water tanks, continuing to develop te reo and tikanga Māori.
Manchester Street School students, staff and community are immensely proud of their Enviroschools journey so far. They are working hard to maintain and develop a vibrant and healthy school environment and know they can continue to effect change for a sustainable community.