News and Events

Maeroa Intermediate School Recognised for Biosecurity Action Project

May 6, 2024

Congratulations to Maeroa Intermediate School, Kirikiriroa Hamilton for being recognised for their action project in their 0.5-hectare gully through winning the 2024 New Zealand Biosecurity Kura (School) Award.

The New Zealand Biosecurity Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country, celebrating people, organisations, communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, kura, universities and government agencies across Aotearoa who are contributing to biosecurity.

After a trip to Maungatautari in 2019 to experience a healthy natural ecosystem and build an awareness and understanding of homes in nature, (part of a broader study of Healthy Homes and Ecological Building), Maeroa Intermediate School was prompted to look within their own school grounds and consider what they could be doing to enhance native biodiversity. Observing and measuring the then (2020) current situation in their gully (neglected, filled with rubbish and weed infested – and out of bounds) meant they had to come up with a plan to safely access the area and address the weed problems before planting natives.

“When we came back to school, we realised we had a huge asset in our backyard that was in desperate need of help. We set our sights high and, ever since, we’ve achieving that vision in spades.” – said Julie, reflecting on the value of the Maungatautari  Sanctuary Mountain trip.

It’s a big job! Weeding, planting, mulching, maintaining, having fun!

The learning journey continued taking students and their wider community down the path of biosecurity. After consultation with local experts and the school community, the gully restoration vision and action plan were established, with the initial clearing and planting phase expected to take 12 years.

The students are passionate about their outdoor classroom and take visitors on gully tours, showing first-hand the differences they have made. This is a long-term commitment that will provide on-going learning opportunities for students and contribute to the health and well-being of the Kirikiriroa gully system.

One aspect of their action research has been to monitor the spread of 2 biocontrol agents that disrupts the growth and spread of Tradescantia fluminensis a very weedy groundcover prevalent in the gully system. The tradescantia beetle and the spot fungus have both been observed in the gully and students have shared these with other schools wanting to reduce the weed.

 “It has been a huge undertaking. Students, whānau and local community cleared weeds and rubbish, grew over 4000 eco-sourced plants, and replanted native trees. They’re now four years in and the passion for this project, along with the wonderful plants that now line the gully, just continues to grow.” – Enviroschools facilitator, Adrienne Grant

Maeroa Intermediate School has been an Enviroschool since the early 2000’s and is currently reflecting on this long journey towards a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world through learning and action together. You can read more about the Maeroa Intermediate Gully project and their Enviroschools journey here.

“It’s so nice for everyone involved to see all that hard work recognised with a national award but it’s also just so rewarding to see the difference everyone’s mahi makes day-by-day. Seeing the impact we’re making, seeing the gully growing and our wonderful community growing along with it – that’s what keeps everyone focused on the long-term biodiversity and biosecurity of this beautiful place.”  – Teacher Julie Yeoman

Students perform a haka at assembly to acknowledge the people involved and the award.

Julie Yeoman, alongside Oriana Tauranga, Linda McPhail, Charles Hume and Raewyn Hollinger, continues to support this student directed learning that fully embraces the concept of integrated Local Curriculum.

Congratulations to all finalists and winners of the 2024 Biosecurity Awards.

Banner image: Julie Yeoman accepts the award from Ed Massey, MPI, supported by other Maeroa teachers.