Weaving kaupapa together towards a thriving Community

Paparoa Primary is a rural school that has been at the heart of the village of Paparoa in the Kaipara for over 150 years. It is an Enviroschool with a current roll of 36 students.

In 2022 Karyn Taylor arrived as a new principal to the school and on a mission to invigorate local curriculum through a focus on sustainability, place and community. The school is now taking a holistic approach to environmental action and is working with local organisations to achieve its aims and contribute to community initiatives.

The school has “adopted” Paparoa Stream, that flows through the village. In July 2023, with the support of Enviroschools and Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR), native tree planting days were held along the stream. Paparoa and other local schools, including Tinopai and Maungaturoto had the benefit of learning from experts about this special waterway and contributing to the water health and biodiversity through the planting.

The Paparoa Stream remediation project that the school is engaged in has been supported by the KMR team. KMR have helped with liaising with the landowner, drawing up a planting plan and funding the site preparation and plant release (undertaken by one of their accredited contractors) and sourcing appropriate plants from their accredited nurseries.

Students are engaged in growing, caring for, harvesting, preparing and sharing healthy food.

The school also works with Whitebait Connection, an environmental education provider, to teach students about the value of freshwater, including measuring water quality and learning about inanga (whitebait).

Pest Free Peninsula Kaipara is a valued partner, teaching the students the benefits of active pest control and safe, humane trapping. This learning ties in with the school’s annual fundraiser in September, the Possum Purge, where the whole community comes together to take biosecurity action. The 2023 event saw the community reduce the local possum population by nearly 900, giving native birdlife a significant boost, and with the fur sold to raise money for the school.

The school is also part of Paparoa Connections, a community collective working to enhance the area, including a shared walkway around Paparoa to enable the village to connect without cars.

Within the school grounds, the vegetable gardens had become overgrown and unloved. Students worked to clear the beds and in December 2022 a new Garden to Table programme was introduced. Tamariki now participate in planting seeds, growing vegetables and fruit, and learning how to prepare and cook the produce.

The garden is fertilised by a compost system and worm farm made possible with the support of Sustainable Kaipara, whilst spare vegetables go to the Pātaka Kai at the school gate, ensuring the school contributes to food security in the community. The next phase of the Garden to Table project is retro-fitting a classroom with kitchen facilities for their food preparation and cooking. The new kitchen space will also function as a community workshop space.

The school has also started work with Northland Regional Council’s Kauri Protection team to secure a kauri tree for planting, in recognition of the historic importance of kauri to the rohe and to inspire children to see themselves as kaitiaki.

There are plans for an orchard and native planting within school grounds to create a grove for outdoor learning and to encourage the return of native biodiversity with bug hotels and plants for pollinators and birds.

“I’m very proud to see our students develop their understanding of their environment and their spirit of kaitiakitanga. Our school has a very special place at the heart of our village and our students are learning that for communities to thrive we must work together.”  – Karyn Taylor, Paparoa School Principal

Original story published by Northland Regional Council.

Banner image: Learning in, about and for the Paparoa Stream.