Reporoa Primary School has been transformed into a Treemendous School by members of the local community and Prime Minister Bill English who made a surprise visit on Saturday to help turn an unused paddock into an outdoor learning area.
The rural school, halfway between Taupo and Rotorua, had a large paddock which was overrun with weeds and shrubs. Realising the opportunity, the school applied to Treemendous for a $10,000 grant. Together with Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation, Reporoa Primary School created a plan to turn the space into an interactive outdoor learning area.
The Prime Minister chatted with children, parents, teachers and other helpers, got up close and personal with George the Weta and planted a Hoheria Sextylosa ‘Purple Lace’ tree.
The Treemendous initiative, now in its 10th year, is a joint action between Project Crimson Trust and the Mazda Foundation. To celebrate, five schools, instead of the usual four, were selected to receive $10,000 towards turning an area of its school into an interactive outdoor learning area.
More than 150 people from the school and local community, along with staff from Mazda New Zealand, the Mazda Foundation, Rotorua Mazda and Project Crimson, pitched in to transform the school grounds on Saturday (16th September).
The group worked hard to clear the area of old shrubs, weeds and other debris before planting more than 580 new grasses and 50 native trees to encourage native birds to visit the area.
A series of paths, that form the shape of koru, were completed on the day, which now lead students to an interactive outdoor learning area featuring weta hotels and kai gardens. The newly created area provides students and teachers with a space where they can learn outside and ensures the natural environment is incorporated into all areas of the school curriculum.
Principal Richelle McDonald says it was fantastic to have the Prime Minister attend. It enabled them to highlight the importance of integrating learning through play and the role Treemendous has had in giving the school the opportunity to create an area where this can happen.
“We are committed to educating students about the environment and world around them. The new interactive outdoor learning area will provide our students with a space where they can be immersed in nature and learning at the same time.
“We want to give a special thanks to our project leader Susannah Engel, all the children, the Mazda Foundation, Project Crimson and the local community who took time out of their day to turn Reporoa School into a Treemendous School,” she said.
Ruud Kleinpaste brought along his insect friends and spoke with the students, educating them about New Zealand native bugs and the importance of looking after the environment.
MP for Rotorua, Hon Todd McClay also attended the event, mucking in and showing support for the school his father used to teach at and drive the school bus for.
“Coming back to Reporoa School and being able to get stuck in and transform the grounds into a new outdoor learning environment was a rewarding experience,” he said.
“I can’t wait to hear how current and future students use the new interactive outdoor learning area and see where their environmental education leads them in the future.”
Mazda Foundation Chairman David Hodge says it was inspiring to see such passion for the environment at Reporoa School from students and teachers alike.
“Reporoa School was a notable example of the passion and enthusiasm the students and the school have about the environment. It was a tremendous success and I can’t wait to hear how the students utilise the revitalised area,“ he said.
It was the fifth and final school to become a Treemendous School this year, following Houghton Valley School in August, Nelson Central in June, Leithfield School in May and Alexandra Primary School in March.
to see more pictures from the Treemendous day at Reporoa School and more information on Treemendous. Applications for Treemendous have now closed for this year and will reopen again early next year.