Otaua School creates a Treemendous space for students


More than 140 people from the Otaua community were out in force on Saturday to help out with Otaua School’s Treemendous School Makeover.

The Treemendous School Makeover programme is a joint initiative between the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson and sees four schools selected each year to receive a garden makeover using New Zealand native plants.


On Saturday 26 May, students, teachers, the wider community and special guest ‘The Bugman’, Ruud Kleinpaste, transformed an overgrown area into an educational and interactive space for the students to explore. The makeover created four new spaces each representing the school’s four house groups and neighbouring habitats: coast, harbour, river and swamp. The school is hoping the restored outdoor classroom will encourage insects and birds to the school grounds.

Ruud Kleinpaste checks out a big bug!

“The new learning space will provide the students with an educational area where they can gain hands-on knowledge of insects and birds along with native fauna and flora,” says Emma Thomas, Chairperson of the Parent and Teacher Association at Otaua School. “Saturday’s makeover was a great success and we had a fantastic turn out.”

The Mayor of Waikato, Allan Sanson and Awaroa Ki Tuakau Ward Councillor, Peter Sands, an ex student of the school, both attended the event and showed their support for the local community.
"Treemendous School Makeovers are a fantastic way of bringing the community together and educate students on the importance of the environment,” says Allan Sanson, Mayor of Waikato. “Everyone worked really hard at creating this interactive space.”

Bridget Abernethy, Executive Director for Project Crimson, says, “It is good to see so many schools in New Zealand focusing on environmental learning because it is such an important part of children’s education. It was great to see everyone rallying around in support of Otaua School”.

Andrew Clearwater, Chairman of the Mazda Foundation, says, “Mazda is proud to be part of Treemendous School Makeovers. We enjoy helping to create these fun, interactive spaces which help to educate children in a creative way”.


Otaua School was the third Makeover this year following Omarama School (Otago) in March and Nuhaka School (Hawke’s Bay) in April. Tutira School (Napier) is the final school to receive a makeover; the event will take place at the end of June.