Te Uku School’s TREEmendous transformation

07 August 2019

Te Uku School, a rural school 10 minutes out of Raglan township, has transformed a neglected area of its grounds into an all-new outdoor learning zone.

Te Uku School was one of five schools selected to win a $10,000 grant towards creating an outdoor learning space this year thanks to TREEmendous, a joint initiative between Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation.

The school plans to use the area to teach students how to identify native plants, birds, lizards and insects and educate them about disease, weed and pest control and other issues surrounding the conservation of fauna and flora in New Zealand.

Teachers, students, the wider community as well as Mazda Foundation Trustees and the Project Crimson team participated in a working bee on Saturday that saw more than 800 native trees planted.

Te Uku School Principal, Pip Mears, says the school is committed to helping its students learn beyond the walls of the classroom.

“We see our outdoor learning space as an extension of the classroom where we can provide a rich environment for children to learn everything from science and technology to drama and music.

“Developing our grounds will allow us to provide a range of learning opportunities and help students to make connections to the world outside the classroom,” she says.

On Friday, Mazda Ambassadors, marine scientist Riley ‘The Sharkman’ Elliott and Ruud ‘The Bugman’ Kleinpaste, visited the school.

Riley, who was taught by Pip in primary school, spoke to the school about the importance of taking care of our natural environment.

“Pip was one of the people that inspired my love of the outdoors from an early age, so it was cool to be able to return the favour to her students,” he says.

Ruud introduced his creepy crawly friends and spoke with both teachers and students about the important role bugs play in maintaining our ecosystem.

Kleinpaste says it was great to see the Raglan community turn up and lend a hand to help Te Uku School transform its outdoor area.

“From the number of people who showed up on the day it was clear that this is a community who care about their environment.

“It’s important that we pass this passion on to the next generation and educate them about the importance of taking care of our ecosystem, and hopefully this new outdoor learning area will do just that,” he says.

After planting all morning on Saturday, the community was treated to a BBQ lunch thanks to Four Square Raglan who donated the celebratory sausages for the hungry workers.

Te Uku School is the fourth school to be visited by the TREEmendous team this year, with Aparima College in Riverton up next. This event marks the 48th school to get the TREEmendous treatment in the last 12 years!

For more information and to see some of the past transformations visit http://treemendous.org.nz/

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