It’s not only the plants that are growing at Moturoa School’s much-loved and important Trees for Survival programme.
A growing roll, combined with ageing infrastructure, has driven the school to make plans to expand its propagation unit, and a $5,000 sponsorship from long-time supporter Port Taranaki will help the plans become reality.
Since 1996, Trees for Survival has been a vital part of Moturoa School’s identity, culture and learning programme. In the school’s propagation unit, the children learn to breed and grow native species, which are then planted throughout Taranaki, including at Port Taranaki.
“Our school vision includes a lot about belonging to the whenua, which is massively important to the kids,” explains principal Etuale Togia.
The Trees For Survival programme is central to this vision and has filtered throughout the school’s learning programme.
“The kids don’t just go out and plant – they are given the responsibility to look after the plants, learn about measurement and time through the likes of watering and feeding, learn about the environment, and serving the community,” Etuale says.
The propagation unit was originally designed for a school with 70-90 kids, but Moturoa School’s role is now approaching 160 and the unit is struggling to cope.
“The unit is ageing and not big enough, so this support from Port Taranaki has come at the right time and will go towards projects next year to expand the working space, provide more storage, and upgrade the facility,” Etuale says.
Despite Port Taranaki’s support and other community support, the school needs to find $15,000-$25,000 a year to run the programme.
“This covers the likes of irrigation, maintenance, security, and funding of our fantastic environmental educator Bill Clarkson, who goes well above and beyond in support of the programme,” Etuale says.
“It’s a large amount of money to take out of our operational budget, so that’s where the ongoing support of the port is amazing, and we’re also trying to get more community and local business support.
“We want to ensure the sustainability of the programme, so the kids get to leave a lasting legacy to the environment and the community.”
Port Taranaki general manager commercial Ross Dingle says the company’s long-time support has been beneficial for both the school and the port.
“It’s a fantastic programme, and we’re proud to support it. It’s great when the kids come down here and plant the indigenous species they’ve grown and cared for – you can really see the pride they have in their work and how important it is to them.”
Photo: Moturoa School year five pupils Katie, left, Tamsin and Arya at the school's propagation unit.