Transformed land brings school and community together

Tawhiti School in Hāwera recently completed a new edible garden on reclaimed abandoned land, as one of ten winners in this year’s inaugural Keep New Zealand Beautiful Kai Garden Competition.

The competition gives schools and ECEs from across the country the opportunity to create a small kai or rongoā garden to help their students develop a greater understanding of the natural world and to gain hands-on experience gardening for their school.

The South Taranaki primary school was gifted a large patch of unused land, which hosted an abandoned and unused BMX pump track. The new kai (edible) garden — now named the the Tawhiti School Kai Corner — was built from scratch, with the intention of contributing to a community garden that’s only two block from the school. The whole area was flattened out and weeded before having planter beds and a worm farm built. 15 fruit trees, vegetables and a herb garden were then planted, with the enthusiastic participation of school students.One of the top goals when starting the project was to have the participation of pupils, and to contribute to the Hāwera community. School principal Sarah Johnston says, 

our tamariki have been highly motivated and engaged in this process. Being involved has enabled our ākonga to learn about sustainability, benefiting not only their hauora but that of the local community. Through this process we have established a strong relationship with a variety of local people and organisations and we enjoy raising and donating seedlings for the local community garden”.

Relief teacher and parent Anna Dawson coordinated the project, and says, “thank you so much for this opportunity. We have loved this process, seeing the growth in the numbers of tamariki who want to join in each week has been exciting to watch. We now have a large group of ākonga who look forward to being out in the garden each week.”

The large Kai Garden also fosters community spirit. “The Tawhiti tamariki have been regular helpers down at the community garden and in return we have had support in our garden from the community garden through donations of tools, help and advice when planting.”

Ms. Dawson continues, “We have planted enough pumpkin, kumara and potatoes to look forward to a very big harvest next year which we hope to time with a celebration with our school community.”

The new Kai Garden is located at Galt Street in Central Hāwera, and is approximately 391m2.

More info about our Kai Garden Competition can be found here.

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