Growing biodiversity champions in the Waitaki Valley

The Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee is supporting the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective (HSC) with a further $10,000 to continue its Community Native Nursery.

"The creation of the nursery is the stepping stone for the re-introduction of native biodiversity into the area," said Michael McMillan, Chair of the Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee.

"It's great to see community groups becoming more aware and wanting to learn about the native biodiversity in the areas they work and live in."

Great beginnings

Launched toward the end of 2022, the nursery is a collaboration between Waitaki Valley School and the HSC to protect and enhance biodiversity in the region.

Principal Jane Severinsen explained, "The Waitaki Valley Community Native Nursery is a wonderfully rich, real-life learning opportunity for our tamariki. It’s a chance to explore kiatiakitanga/stewardship and develop an understanding of the importance of biodiversity in the Waitaki and Hakataramea Valley."

Work is now well underway with the project. Volunteers and Waitaki School students have already sourced, nurtured and grown plants at the nursery, planting them at the Kurow Wetlands during a community planting day.

"With the help of our community we planted 450 natives into our local wetland," said Sarah Elliot, HSC Project Manager. "This not only enhanced the wetland, but it also gave students, their families and the community an opportunity to learn about how natives help build healthy habitats, biodiversity and clean freshwater."

According to Hudson, a student at Waitaki Valley School, the day was a hit. "I like going on field trips and learning about different plants. Planting our native plants into the community wetlands was really fun."

The project is helping to bridge connections between the school and the community. "Working alongside the HSC to develop and grow our Community Native Nursery is a wonderful way for the community and the school to work together," said Jane.

Kids make the best teachers

Every week, senior students at the school come down to the nursery to take care of the plants, learn about biodiversity in the valley and help with initiatives such as the recent Eco Sourcing Challenge.

For six weeks students, their families and community members were encouraged to scout out and collect seeds from a list of plants native to the area. They collected their treasures and brought them to the nursery for a community propagation workshop. At the workshop, they learned how to plant the seeds and nurture them into seedlings that could be either taken home or contributed to the nursery for planting in the community.

"Children are great teachers! They are very good at educating and motivating their families to get out there and protect our native environment," said Sarah.

Children were also invited to create a wool pot and propagate their own toetoe plant to contribute to the nursery.

Building on success

This new round of funding will be used to employ a nursery assistant to help maintain and coordinate activities on-site.

"Having a paid nursery assistant will ensure the continuity and effectiveness of their work by maintaining the nursery every week, running education sessions with students and making sure our community workshops and events are run as efficiently as possible."

The funds will also be used to purchase more native plants to be cared for by students and community volunteers.

HSC plans to plant these in a demonstration garden in the empty space between the nursery and the school.

"This will help people to get inspired and see what’s possible. The community can explore the plants native to our region and learn how best to plant them and support their growth," said Sarah.

Penny, another student at Waitaki Valley, is excited to see what they can achieve together in the nursery. "I think the nursery is important so we can get more native trees around our area. I have enjoyed potting the plants and creating the wool pots. I am looking forward to helping to grow the nursery this year."

Waitaha Action to Impact Fund

These funds were awarded through our Waitaha Action to Impact (WAI) Fund and the Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee’s Action Plan fund.


All photos by Chloe Lodge.