Tangiteroria School sits on a bend of the Wairoa River on State Highway 14 between Whangarei and Dargaville. This small school community is very conscious of the value of having locally produced and seasonally available food. To further build on the choices they have towards a sustainable school community they have renovated a whare heihei (hen house) and introduced heihei to their patch. This integrated approach to learning and action has been supported by funding from Earthwise.
IDENTIFYING THE CURRENT SITUATION
At the beginning, we decided that chickens would be good to support our school garden to table programme. We have a fabulous garden that we preserve, cook, eat and harvest from. We felt it would be good to use our garden waste to go to our school hens and be rewarded with eggs. The eggs could then be used for cooking and baking (Learning for Sustainability).
“We are always looking for ways to be sustainable. We have a wonderful backyard for producing our own kai and having hens will only add to this.” – Eden Hakaraia, lead Enviroschools teacher, Tangiteroria School
We looked at possible options. We created a google slide, that we started to brainstorm ideas and possible concerns such as predator control. This helped develop student ownership of their final design and the outcome (Empowering Students.) We were gifted an old chicken coop from a parent. This, however, needed a bit of TLC, and that was our starting point. At Tangiteroria School we have a lot of space for roaming chickens, and free range was a must.
We researched the necessary requirements to keep free-ranging chickens happy and healthy, allowing them to have their best life.
Our free-range requirements are:
- To have space to walk around.
- To scratch around and forage.
- To enjoy a dust bath.
- To spread their wings and stretch.
The biggest concern we had with having chickens at school was what would happen during the holiday periods. Purchasing a self- feeder was necessary. We have a schoolhouse with a family who have offered to look after and care for our chooks while we are on holiday. Community support will be necessary for the well-being of our hens.
Predator control was a big concern too. We are familiar with the pest issues, and we need to make sure we are trapping regularly just like we do in our school ngahere. We don’t want rats in our school bush (Sustainable Communities).
The chicken coop has been upgraded with an amazing chicken run! This provides the hens a comfortable place to hang out when they aren’t foraging or having a dust bath. We built new nesting boxes and a roosting space which was lined with the wood shavings.
Casey Y8 says, “having chickens at school will be great for our school lunches, we can have delicious egg sandwiches and we can feed our chickens the scrap from our lunches and cooking.”
Now that our hens have settled into their renovated home they are laying! These eggs will be sold to help sustain their food costs and will also be used alongside our plentiful vegetables, as ingredients for our cooking classes. The extra predator control around the coop is now part of wider rat trapping practice in our school grounds.
Beau Year 4 says, “it’s great to raise them from chicks so they become tame. If we have extra eggs, we will be able to sell them to our school community.”