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Little warriors winning in the environment

19 October 2017

educare3Little eco-warriors in Flaxmere are taking up the battle on behalf of the environment, and their efforts have been nationally recognised.

Morgan Educare won the Sustainable Schools Award at the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards last week.

While the youngsters are not so much aware of the importance of the award; there is no doubt they are aware of the environment, says centre manager Paula Mihaka. “We’ve got one young warrior who saw an adult in the park drop some litter and he called him on it. You have a 4-year-old seeing this and knowing it’s not right. That’s what education about protecting our environment is all about.”

Sustainability is “at the heart of what we do”, Mrs Mihaka said; from river clean ups and tree plantings, to recycling, vegetable growing and worm farming. The long-term goal is to become a school focussed on permaculture: sustainability and self-sufficiency. “Permaculture is about every time you touch something you try and improve it.”

To achieve that, the centre has installed solar panels, upcycled massive tractor tyres to make edible gardens; put in a worm farm to help deal with scraps and to provide a natural plant food; organised for a local pig farmer to take the scraps the worms cannot deal with; put in a compost bin; collects unwanted clothing from staff and whanau to give away at a local market, and recycles all paper products.

Next on the list is the collection of rain water from the roof into tanks, to be used for water play and garden watering. And it will not just be any old water play – the team have come up with a plan for a ‘stream’ which the children can manipulate using engineering processes; smaller but not dissimilar to the community version in the Havelock North Village Green.

The cost of the system is about $6500, and the $2000 prize money from the award will go towards it.

To help raise the rest of the funds, the school is putting together a book called Listen to the Taniwha, aimed at encouraging other children to help look after the environment. With beautiful photos and simple language, it shows the piles of litter the children have found in public places and cleaned up, and how upset the children are that special places are used to dump rubbish.

Their litter clean ups are not limited to the riverside; the youngsters don gloves for their weekly walk to the library and pick up litter on the streets and join primary and secondary students for their monthly clean up in the area around the college. “It is all about educating and raising awareness; starting with our own tamariki who can help spread the message into the wider community as they grow,” said Mrs Mihaka, before leading off a snaggle of children to water the vege gardens.

The award was one of three for Hastings. Havelock North won Most Beautiful Suburb, and Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market won Most Sustainable Business Project. Hastings District councillor Henare O’Keefe as Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s 2017 Local Hero.
Hastings acting mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said Hastings could be very proud of all of the places and projects which had been recognised.

“And these little children, who are so aware and determined to keep our places beautiful deserve special praise. They are truly special and will be the leaders of caring for our environment in the future”

14 November 2017

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