Holistic journey to a thriving Enviroschool

Paparoa Primary is a small rural school that has sat at the heart of the village of Paparoa in the Kaipara for over 150 years. It is a Bronze Enviroschool, with 36 students, taught in two classrooms.

In 2022 a new Principal, Karyn Taylor, arrived on a mission to invigorate the school and set it on a sustainability journey, whilst maintaining a strong focus on its place within the community. The school is taking a holistic approach to environmental action and is working with local organisations to achieve its aims and contribute to community initiatives.

The school has “adopted” Paparoa Stream, that flows through the village, and with the support of Enviroschools and Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR) held native tree planting days along the stream in July 2023 along with other local schools, including Tinopai and Maungaturoto Schools.

For the stream remediation project, the KMR team engaged with the landowner, drew up a planting plan and funded the site preparation and plant release with one of their accredited contractors. Plants were sourced from KMR’s accredited nurseries.

The school also works with Whitebait Connection, an environmental education provider, to teach students about the value of freshwater, including measuring water quality and learning about inanga (whitebait).

Students working in the stream.

Paparoa School students work alongside Whitebait Connection at the Paparoa Stream to measure water quality and to learn about inanga (whitebait).

Pest Free Peninsula Kaipara is a valued partner, teaching the students the benefits of active pest control and safe, humane trapping. This learning ties in with the school’s annual fundraiser in September, the Possum Purge, where the whole community comes together to take biosecurity action. The 2023 event saw the community reduce the local possum population by nearly 900, giving native birdlife a significant boost, and with the fur sold to raise money for the school.

The school is also part of Paparoa Connections, a community collective working to enhance the area, including a shared walkway around Paparoa to enable the village to connect without cars.

Within the school grounds, the vegetable gardens had become overgrown and unloved. Students worked to clear the beds and in December 2022 a new Garden to Table programme was introduced. Tamariki plant seeds and grow vegetables and fruit, that they then learn how to cook. The garden is fertilised by a compost system and worm farm made possible with the support of Sustainable Kaipara, whilst spare vegetables go to the Pātaka Kai at the school gate, ensuring the school contributes to food security in the community. The next phase of the Garden to Table project is repurposing a classroom to a kitchen, that will also function as a community workshop space.

The school has also started work with NRC’s Kauri Protection team to secure a kauri tree for planting, in recognition of the historic importance of kauri to the rohe and to inspire children to see themselves as kaitiaki. There are plans for an orchard and native planting within school grounds to create a grove for outdoor learning and to encourage the return of native biodiversity with bug hotels and plants for pollinators and birds.

Children holding vegetables from the garden.

Thanks to the Garden to Table programme, students now have a thriving vegetable garden.

Karyn Taylor, school Principal, said; “I’m very proud to see our students develop their understanding of their environment and their spirit of kaitiakitanga. Our school has a very special place at the heart of our village and our students are learning that for communities to thrive we must work together.”

KMR supports schools, marae, hapū and community groups to create waterway projects in the Kaipara Moana Catchment through its Whenua Whānui Fund

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