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Source: Auckland Council

Tomarata students love nothing more than learning outdoors and they got the opportunity earlier this month when they explored the special character of Wellsford’s Lake Tomarata.

Funded by Rodney Local Board and organised by Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters team, 80 students, parents and teachers took part in the lake discovery day.

Tomarata School Principal Cherylene Neels says the school’s vision is linked to the local area, sustainability, biculturalism and learning about nurturing the environment.

“The opportunity given to our children to gain knowledge about water, trees, eels and the special character of the Tomarata Lakes was perfect to complement our local curriculum.”

Students took part in activities such as:

  • Native plant knowledge and potting up – each student learned about the importance of native plants and potted up a plant to take home.
  • Native fish – students looked at fish caught in the lake, learnt about fish habitat and protecting native species, and played ‘fish bingo’ to identify particular species.
  • Septic tank relays – a game teaching students what they can and can’t put down their septic tank.
  • Wai Care monitoring – students looked at the lake’s pH levels, water clarity and macroinvertebrates.

Neels says the children loved the creative activities especially the water clarity tubes, repotting native trees, and touching a live eel.

Students wrote about their experience and this letter from 11-year old Willow sums it up.

“Thank you for taking your time to teach us about trees, fish and planting, it was really fun. An interesting fact I’ve learnt was that eels come from the sea into the Tomarata lakes and go back to the sea when it is finished in the lake. I also know that one of the little eels lives to about 20-30 years. All of Tomarata School are so grateful to adventure the Tomarata lakes.”

Chair Phelan Pirrie says the lake is a popular recreation spot and a valuable habitat for native species.

“Helping children and parents understand the lake’s ecology and health makes them want to protect it.

“We know that our lakes, rivers and beaches are contaminated by sediment run-off and wastewater leaks from septic tanks and that is why the local board supports programmes that educate people about the actions they can take to prevent this happening.”

Neels says that the responsibility of being kaitiaki for our environment is developed naturally through days like this.

“As staff, we like to provide programmes that offer a range of options and opportunities that often sit outside the traditional approaches, and this was an example of this. We look forward to further discovery days.”

Pirrie says that supporting community groups, landowners and schools involved with ecological restoration and initiatives that restore water quality helps protect and improve Rodney’s natural environment.

The Rodney Local Board Plan 2020 has details of the board’s environmental objectives and initiatives.

MIL OSI