Students Support Farm Restoration Project

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Spring was in the air when twenty boys from Rathkeale College Year 10 Ag class, along with Bailey Parker undertaking his Duke of Ed service, and teachers Ben Arcus and Liz Evans, all chipped in to plant some 1200 manuka plugs alongside the Kiriwhakapa Steam at Matt and Lynley Wyeth’s Ratanui Farm.

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The Ruamahanga Restoration Trust donated the manuka plugs in an effort to help students understand the need and reasons for rural property owners to protect and restore their waterways and riparian margins.

The Wyeths have been doing this for a long time and have even made national headlines for their efforts. Their Spring Valley Enterprises restoration plan encompasses an ambitious eco-corridor project that has fenced off 8.5km of the Kiriwhakapa Steam on their 2100 hectare farm close to the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, northwest of Masterton. The family has already planted some 25,000 native trees, shrubs, flax, grasses, and sedges along their newly fenced rivers, and clearly love what they do and take pride in doing it.

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Following planting and safety instructions from Lynley Wyeth and Michael Birch, the students lept in and did an amazing job planting 1200 manuka plugs over a two-hour period. Thanks to recent rains, the ground was already wet and covered with a thick layer of buttercup and clover, and therefore suitably prepared to accept our gift of manuka.

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The Wyeth’s restoration project is an excellent example of how rural property owners across New Zealand are contributing to environmental protection by fencing stock off the waterways and creating eco-corridors of native plants that will in turn provide shade for the streams and healthier habitats for fish and native birds.

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As a registered charity, the Ruamahanga Restoration Trust supports local schools and rural community groups within the Wairarapa, creating restoration projects and educational activities around conservation and environmental heritage. Our goal is to help restore and regenerate streams, wetlands, and pockets of native bush along the length and breadth of Ruamahanga River and its many tributaries, which in turn will help protect native fish species and create bird corridors from Mt Bruce Pūkaha Reserve all the way to Kawakawa Palliser Bay.

For us, this means starting with our Schools Behind Our River project to deliver hands-on learning opportunities for school students to embrace environmental conservation projects that connect local communities with the health of their river catchment, Māori heritage, and sustainable biodiversity goals.

Schools Behind Our River is funded with assistance from One Foundation Limited, Trust House, and Eastern & Central Community Trust