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Source: Auckland Council

Pupils from Papakura Normal School have formed probably the youngest deputation ever to their local board.

Five students presented to the Papakura Local Board, calling for action over an open drain that runs along Walters Road near their school.

Kaige Chase, Gabriel Moaate-Minhinnick, Olivia Kim, Genesis Blakelock and Angelina Tuiono appealed for the board to take their concerns to Auckland Transport after incidents involving children walking to and from school in the area.

“We realise this is probably about money but saving money in the old days has just stored up problems for today,” they said.

The students outlined the case of two six-year-old boys, where one fell into the drain only for his friend to be unable to get him out. Luckily a passing motorist intervened.

They also raised a near miss, where a driver exited a car park on the other side of the road, only to drive directly into the drain.

“The incident with the boys led to temporary fixes that involved some orange plastic fencing, but it just seems to have become a permanent solution. Now it is breaking down and probably ending up polluting our sea.”

The drain had become overgrown, with the school spending money battling gorse and weeds and building a large fence to keep students free from the dangers presented by the drain and nearby road.

Board members and the area’s elected councillors, Daniel Newman and Angela Dalton, praised the youngsters for getting involved and for coming armed with solutions after the students called for the drain to be infilled to create more parking and drop-off zones for the school.

Board chair Brent Catchpole says the amount of research that went into the deputation’s presentation was a credit to them.

“These young people did not just come along to complain. They gathered evidence, thought through the problem and even outlined possible solutions.”

He raised the matter with the board of Auckland Transport just days later during the board’s submissions on the Regional Land Transport plan, and the board formally resolved to refer the matter to AT and Healthy Waters, urging that a quick response be provided.