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Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee youth event a first

06 Nov 2018

Today’s Selwyn Waihora Water Zone Committee meeting took on a decidedly youthful look.

In a first for Canterbury – and possibly New Zealand – local school students were invited to participate fully in the proceedings of a water zone committee.

Welcoming the students, Zone Committee chair Allen Lim said it was “great” to see so many young people coming together to discuss the important issues of freshwater management and biodiversity.

“These face-to-face conversations and the people element are critical in a collaborative process like this,” he said.

The participating schools, Burnham, Ladbrooks, Lincoln Primary, Prebbleton, Rolleston Christian and Springston, are all Enviroschools. This means they have committed to creating a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world via “action learning”, where generations work with and learn from nature.

Enviroschools facilitator Matt Stanford and Lou Drage from Te Ara Kakariki shared their collaborative “Kids Discovery Plant-outs” initiative, working with local Enviroschools to connect rangatahi with restoration projects near their schools.

Key to their success is the rich authentic contexts for learning this programme provides. One example was Rolleston Christian School supporting local dairy farmer Adele Well to restore a riparian margin on her farm.

Students and parents helped plant 420 eco-sourced native plants beside the Hororata River. Students are now keen to learn how to fence!

Sharing information about freshwater and biodiversity projects
Each school had an opportunity to share information about their freshwater and biodiversity projects, and discuss issues that are important to them. Examples were a bug hotel and bird and bug forest (Ladbrooks), recycled tyres being used as seats (Prebbleton) and hydroponics and beeswax wraps (Rolleston).

Environment Canterbury Programme Manager Caroline Hart said she applauded the initiative and hoped it could be transferable.

“We are currently reviewing the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and every year we’re looking for new members of our 10 zone committees throughout the region,” she said. “They’re at the heart of effective community participation in decisions affecting water in their areas. It’s critical that the youth voice is heard – they’re the ones who will carry our plans and aspirations into the future.

“I’m sure other zone committees will be looking with great interest at what happened in Selwyn Waihora today, and with an eye to the future, they may well be encouraged to promote something similar.

“Environment Canterbury would be very supportive of such a move and anything else our zone committees and zone teams would like to do to engage young people in their kaupapa.”

ends

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