Treemendous outdoor classroom for Oakura school

More than 300 members of the Oakura community gathered their gardening gloves and battled the rain to support Oakura School’s Treemendous School Makeover on Sunday 15 June, resulting in one of the best turnouts in the five year history of the Treemendous programme.

Oakura School Students and teachers, along with members of the community and staff from the local Mazda dealership, Autocity Mazda, transformed the previously out of bounds areas. The makeover consisted of; a pathway being created to the creek at the bottom of the hill, planting an orchard and over 1000 natives being planted. The newly created viewing platform will give the school children the perfect vantage spot to watch the native wildlife that visit the madeover area. The ambitious makeover required careful preparation during previous weeks by the school makeover team, Project Crimson and local businesses.

The school’s new outdoor learning environment features native pathways, a community orchard, a compost area with a worm farm, and a camping site. The school will look to use the area for hands-on experience in all aspects of the curriculum.

“The garden will make a big difference to the school community. This previously boggy area was a wasteland that lay unused, but the newly transformed garden will enable the students to get up close with nature and wildlife.

“We want to develop a ‘learning to care’ culture so the students show an appreciation for their environment,” says Lynne Hepworth, Principal at Oakura School.

Project Crimson Trustee Ruud Kleinpaste, ‘The Bugman’, attended the event and took the students on a garden tour, educating them on all the bugs found in their backyard. New Plymouth Mayor, Harry Duynhoven, showed his support for the local community by digging in at the makeover and speaking to the volunteers, thanking them for their hard work.

"This Treemendous School Makeover has been a wonderful event for the local community and I was blown away to see such a large turnout supporting the school. They’ve created something truly special for the students to learn from and enjoy,” says Harry Duynhoven, Mayor of New Plymouth.

Mazda Foundation trustee, Murray Berkett, says, “The Treemendous School Makeovers help to bring the community together to help their local school. It’s great to see the students so excited about their new environment and so enthusiastic to learn about nature. Mazda is always proud to be part of these events.”

Oakura School is the third makeover of the year, after Halfway Bush School in Dunedin and Porirua School, Porirua. Oakura School’s makeover will be followed by the final makeover of the year at Whangamata Area School, Whangamata in July.