A very special programme at Moturoa School

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This very successful planting commitment is driven by former primary school teacher Bill Clarkson, now Moturoa School Environmental Educator, who reports below.

The Trees for Survival programme at Moturoa School was first established in 1996 and eighteen years later is still going strong with a record 1,500 plants –most of them threatened local plants – grown and planted out last year. Working closely with DOC, New Plymouth District Council, and more recently the Taranaki Regional Council, often growing plants on request, the children are involved in all stages of the propagation from seed and cutting material, to the final planting out. The school won the NZPCN New Zealand Plant Conservation Award in 2010 for its rare species work.

Mike Tapp and Kelly Eaton, from DOC, talk about the hazards to be aware of as they prepare to transport plants to the Wai Pingao site

A fairly large waterfall encountered adjacent to a conglomerate rock ledge with ancient shells embedded below


The original sponsors of the programme were Port Taranaki and New Plymouth Rotary West, while over the last two years support has also come from AWE Taranaki. The Rotary club continues to be actively involved and recently constructed a new hardening off area which made it possible to increase our propagation output and the planting programme. Last year they constructed new garden edges for the special native gardens which contain many rare local plants established in support of the propagation and related educational programmes.

Over the years Moturoa has supplied many rare and threatened plants for DOC including koheriki (Scandia rosifolia), wharanui (Peperomia urvilleana) and kokihi (Tetragonia tetragonioides), all grown from local eco-sourced stock and used to help boost the numbers in the wild of these regionally threatened plants.

Another interesting plant grown for DOC is the pinatoro (Pimelea carnosa ) which is the primary host plant of the local  threatened  moth Notoreas “Taranaki”. As well as growing and learning about these plants, the children take part in active conservation by planting in their original habitats. In addition, they become aware of the special ecological relationships that exist between native plants and animals, and their habitats.

Milky white rivulets form interesting patterns in the sand.


Children get down to the serious work of planting.


Other plants grown for the Taranaki Regional Council include a local form of Corokia cotoneaster, the ‘Paritutu korokio’, along with napuka (Hebe speciosa) and waiu-atua (Euphorbia glauca) which have been used in part of a revegetation programme at the Rapanui Grey-Faced Petrel Colony in North Taranaki.

For many years the Moturoa School children have grown rare plants for the New Plymouth District Council and the children, with council support, have been actively involved in the establishment and care of special native gardens of rare and threatened local plants at Centennial Park in New Plymouth near Paritutu Rock.

Kokihi planted very carefully before preparing driftwood cages to protect the plants.


An aerial view of the Wai Pingao River – photo by Tim Weston


Last term the children were busy with four major planting projects; they have already helped plant out over 500 plants in a range of Taranaki locations including pinatoro at Opunake and kokihi at Whitecliffs (Parininihi) at the Wai Pingao River mouth. While making a real connection with their local environment, they are learning a considerable amount in the process.

Close up view of kokihi seedling


Steel cages installed on top of some plants to prevent browsing by rabbits and goats – photo by Pat Murphy


Any Taranaki schools interested to find out more about special native plant propagation and related TfS educational programmes are invited to contact the school to arrange a visit to see them in action.

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