Treemendous Makeover for St Joseph’s School

An area out the back of St Joseph’s School in Waitara has been transformed from an ‘out-of-bounds’ swamp to a native wetland area after the Treemendous team visited the school on Saturday 20 March to help complete a Treemendous School Makeover.

The area used to flood every time there was heavy rain to the point that the school’s concrete-based soccer goals floated out.
A pond was dug out and four boardwalks put up to allow access from one side of the wetland to the other and around 1000 native plants were planted on the day with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
A restored wooden bridge was also transported to the area which now leads to a newly constructed outdoor classroom.
“It’s been an ongoing dream of ours to have this area of the school developed,” said Moya Christophers, Principal, St Joseph’s School.
“We originally applied for the Treemendous Makeover in 2008 and were unsuccessful. After that we did a lot of preparation work to get the drainage problem fixed. When we found out we’d won we were thrilled. We have great staff and parents behind us and everyone is absolutely delighted to have won the makeover,” said Christophers.
The school programme is planned around a given topic every year and this year it is biodiversity.
“We want to teach students not only inside the classroom but outside as well and empower them to take ownership and be caretakers of the environment. The new garden area now gives students access to an outdoor classroom where they can learn about the water cycle, botany, food webs, soil and wildlife all in one place and firsthand,” said Christophers.
Bridget Abernethy, Executive Director, Project Crimson was amazed by the amount of support the makeover received.
Around 250 people turned out to the makeover including students and their families, teachers, the local fire brigade, local church groups, New Plymouth Mayor, Peter Tennent, local MP Jonathan Young and many others from the local community.
“The school has put an incredible amount of effort into this makeover and the enthusiasm on the day was contagious.”
The 183 pupil school was chosen from 94 nationwide applications to have its grounds enhanced with a native tree garden.