School pupils plant trees to say thanks

Welcome Bay School students Marnie Came, Aroha Huriwai-Wilson, Zeph Gentry, Ataahua Kohu, Sienna Nepia. Photo: Sharnae Hope.

A local school helps kids grow a green thumb by saying thank you to a former staff member.

Students from Welcome Bay School planted around 300 native trees yesterday to thank their former Tauranga librarian Jill Best.

Jill, who had been working at Welcome Bay School for 16 years before she retired this year in Feburary, had bought a piece of land earlier this year, but didn’t know what to do with it, until the kids came along.

“I met Jill Best and our theme this year is connect- every year we have a learning theme- so I found out that she was taking on this big chunk of land that she couldn’t build on for GeoTech reasons and it was just sitting there and she didn’t know what to do with it,” says Welcome Bay School teacher Nathan Buller.

“I talked to the kids and mentioned that she had spent her entire life helping out the community and said maybe it is time that we should help her out a little.”

He says that some of the children’s initial ideas were “very far out”, but they eventually came to the conclusion, with consent from Jill, to restore the land back to the way it once was.

Welcome Bay School student Izzy Troughton, 9, says they didn’t want to spend money on the project, so they all got together, wrote letters, and made phone calls to nurseries and plant shops explaining their project and that they needed donations.

“We went on a school trip to the Kai Mamaku forest and they let us take home some seedlings that we had to look after,” says Izzy.

“Mine was a Totara and I named it Tutu because it looked like it had a tutu around it.”

They received 300 native trees from several companies and organisations, such as Paper4trees who donated 200 trees and Kereru Gardens, Palmers, Tauranga Tree Company and Naturally Native, and support from Tauranga City Council.

There were about 90 children from three classes involved, along with teachers, the school’s caretaker, parents and neighbors.

Nathan says this whole project has been very exciting for the kids and they have learnt a lot along the way.

“We just let them go- it’s scary for a teacher to let things go- but it has ended up somewhere beautiful.”

“The kids learnt all about the different types of trees, how to look after them and how important native trees are.”

Jill says it was good to see the kids getting stuck into it- they had learnt an immense amount during the project.

“I was excited when I found out what they were doing, my plan was always to do something on the land, but the kids bet me to it,” says Jill.

“”It was great to see them learning about conservation in a practical way.”

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