27 Nov 2023

School kids have been getting their hands dirty to restore the area around Beckenham Ponds.

Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto (Beckenham School) students from year five and six have been hard at work over the past few years working on restoration and planting through the Healthy Waterways School Programme.

Council Community Partnerships Rangers and Community Waterways Partnership have worked collaboratively to support the Christchurch kids with planting native trees, learning about the waterways, and fostering appreciation for this unique spring-fed wetland.

Named the ‘Kaitiaki crew,’ the students have been planting by the ponds since 2019, with older students now able to point out mature trees they’d planted years earlier to their younger siblings.

Students proudly boast the number of plants they’d put in the ground during planting season, delicately weeding while searching for bugs and pointing out bubbles surfacing from the spring-fed ponds.

“We spent the whole day planting at the start of the year and got to stay by the water all day,” says one school student.

“It’s been so rainy this year we haven’t been able to come down as much, but this beats math class.”

Community Waterways Advisor Georgina St John-Ives says Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto is one of the schools Council has had a long relationship with. “We make sure to support them with on-going maintenance and a long term to commitment to the ponds.

“The area has become a special place that holds a deep connection with the school and a real gem through the restoration.”

The Healthy Waterways Programme is run through the Community Waterways Partnership, which supports the development of community-based initiatives to improve the health, biodiversity and amenity value of the city’s urban waterways.

“It’s important to nurture the relationships we develop through this programme, making sure we practice sustainability and support the community,” says Community Partnerships Ranger Heidi Wilton.

“The programme allows schools to connect to their communities and local nature in such an intentional way.”

The Beckenham circuit was traditionally used by Māori as a mahika kai – a place for gathering food.

The ponds are the only remaining area of the marsh today, and with the help of the local community are being restored to their natural environment.