Take home, take care, take back

A school ‘old fashioned fun day’ was a great hit on 8 March 2015 — with no big gala possible while major building work is underway, we had lots of larks as a community instead.

The Ngaio School Environment Group (Nestegg) had a stall with displays illustrating what’s been happening under the masterplan the community created for our school grounds.

Some of the most popular activities were the ‘build a playbank’ table of wooden blocks, and free seedlings in pots to take away. These were baby trees and bushes that have grown in the rich mulch and undergrowth that now fills our arb(oretum).

The kids who took the plants were told what native species they had, and if they couldn’t remember, to look it up by matching  leaf shapes. They were invited to grow it bigger, and bring it back to a planting day — or find a suitable home anywhere in the community.

It was neat to see how excited they were walking off with something to look after.
A trick will be to give it a bigger pot in spring, with room for more root growth as the temps rise again.

More news re planting plans soon, and the developing plans for a playbank on the slope above the miniball courts.

Playbank possibilities

Well, you go round here, and up the ramp, cross the bridge -- there's pretend water under here -- then back round and it all joins up.
Well, you go round here, and up the ramp, cross the bridge — there’s pretend water under here — then you can go along here.
Yeah, those are trees, with a hut up in them, and a ladder going up. It's all on a hill, that's what the little blocks are, they show it's uneven dirt.
Yeah, those are trees, with a hut up in them, and a hideyhole under. It’s all on a hill, that’s what the little blocks are, they show it’s uneven dirt.

Finalist in national awards

Ngaio School’s arboretum restoration project has been selected as a finalist in the Community Design Awards category of the 2015 Landscape Architecture Awards.

The judges said:

The Ngaio School project is an excellent example of community engagement.  This coming-together of design and the energy of parents and pupils will go on sustaining the school spirit and the future generations of young environmentalists.

Ngaio School’s project — focused on the refresh of the school arboretum, which had huge community involvement — was entered by Isthmus Group who provided expert guidance, financial support and old-fashioned labour to the project.

The other two finalists in the category are post-earthquake projects in Christchurch.
A winner will be announced at the awards ceremony in Rotorua on 20 March 2015.

This playground’s lawless and kids love it

  Principal Bruce McLachlan of Swanson Primary School in West Auckland did away with the standard playtime rules as part of a university study conducted by Auckland University of Technology and Otago University looking at ways to encourage active play among children. The positive results have hit the news all over the world. independent.co.uk radionz.co.nz theatlantic.com And article below from Stuff. So what does a school look like when it abandons all the playground rules? Expect to see children clambering up trees, play-fighting, scooter tricks and the odd bloody knee. Swanson School principal Bruce McLachlan has became a global hit for his non-PC approach to playtime at the Auckland school. When children returned to class this week, Fairfax NZ was there to see if anarchy ruled. Scooters speed by, narrowly missing a group of basket players, but there’s no head clash. Children can be spotted up a massive tree, a girl balances on the step’s railing, while a boy flies by inside an old tyre. Zac, 11, follows us around the playground politely pointing out the children action. The stocky boy admits he used to get in a fair bit of trouble. “With the rules I got stood down three times. Now there’s nothing to get stood down for.” The principal said he has seen a transformation in Zac, from playing-up to playing nicely. McLachlan isn’t your ordinary principal. His golden retriever dog Chelsea sleeps under the principal’s desk. But there is reasoning behind his offbeat ideas. Research has shown a dog will reduce noise and keep children calmer in a classroom. Chelsea also sits with children in the sick bay to cheer them up and also helps children who struggle with reading. “You can read to a dog and that dog is not going to judge you … it’s never going to call you dumb,” McLachlan said. The principal’s phone hasn’t stopping ringing with calls from schools and journalists since he made global headlines for his unconventional approach. A number of principals plan to visit the school to see it in action, he said. “It’s resonated with people. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years that we’ve gone too far in wrapping kids up in cotton wool,” he said. “What kids are doing in their own time is what kids have always done in their time. …. And that’s play. What we’re doing in the school is letting that happen in break time.” Teacher and associate principal Gail Thomson said children are now too busy having fun to fight. Although, she admitted she had to trust McLachlan when he suggested the idea. “I was a little bit scared I would be run over with the chaos, but it didn’t happen. Children just got on with each other.” Children need to have fun, play and use their imagination, she said. “As a child … I liked to climb trees and build stuff. Our children today don’t do that enough.” McLachlan has some advice for parents wishing to encourage more free-time play. “Let the kids go out in the backyard and play and parents sit inside with a glass of sauvignon blanc. “Adults don’t need to be involved in play. They will play naturally. It’s something wired into a child.”

Planting Bee

Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0552

More than 70 families turned out to the Arb working bee and thankfully the weather cooperated. It was a hive of activity. We managed not only to plant and mulch the arb but also to refresh the Colway street entrance, put up a weta house, and build a play platform.

Spades, wheelbarrows were whirring and plants disappeared into the predug holes at an alarming rate. The fencing has been completed now and the 16 classes of excited children shown through the Arb on the Monday morning gave it the seal of approval.

We would like to thank all of the following people for a huge effort:

* the 70 families who helped on the day

* the Wellington City Council for donated plants

* Matt Robertson, our local ranger, for helping run the working bee

* Councillor Andy Foster for coming and pitching in

* Isthmus for funding and all their hard work on the day,

* Peter Reimann and Des Smith for their hard work and restoration knowhow

* PTA workers for bbq and drinks,

* Liz Millar and Sophie Eames for their support and

* Judy Mullins and Bush Builders for all the care before and after


Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0522

Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0535 Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0547  Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0562 Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0582 Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0584 Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0586 Arb working bee - 31 Aug 2013_0589


Arb refresh: planting bee, Saturday 31 August

Pages from arb updated 3AUG
The arb planting plan, showing numbered areas to fence and plant to protect roots of significant trees.

The big planting bee happens in the arb at the end of this month. Everyone’s invited – it’s a family afternoon, and the planting will be set up to really suit kids.

The planting is something the school, Board and PTA (through its offshoot Nestegg*) has been working towards for a year. It’s the first project in the overall review of our school grounds.

The aim is to save the great big trees at the heart of the arb: kauri, totara, rewarewa, kaikawaka (NZ cedar), ti kouka (cabbage trees), tawhairaunui (hard beech) — all 70 years plus. They’re at risk, the experts tell us, from soil compaction around their roots. There are a couple of lesser trees already dying like this. Planting round the ‘kaumatua’ trees will ease the root pressure and make our arb bushier, with places for critters and more food for birds – things the kids ask for over and over.

We’re striking a balance: making it more green, but still with lots of room for free play. That’s why we are ‘ring fencing’ six areas, leaving big gaps in between, rather than just blocking off half of it. There will be fences round the new plants, to preserve them, and to make it clear to the kids the rest is all for play.

There will be a fencer working there the next couple of weeks, putting in posts.

The planting will be on Saturday 31 August, from 1.30pm, rain or shine.
Come for half an hour, or three hours. There are at least 500 plants to put in, and we’ll mulch after planting, and add some new wooden play features.

Monday 2 September the school will celebrate the planting.

It might be an idea to talk this through with your children. Many care passionately about their arb – you can explain why this is happening, to make it stronger so it lasts, and that they get to help.

This is a PTA project, supported by our school Bush Builders, Wellington City Council, three community restoration groups and Isthmus Group.

Pages from arb updated 3AUG-2a

Pages from arb updated 3AUG-3

Very big tree hugs

Room 18 was in the arb today, as part of their inquiry study – they are learning about change and how to make it happen, and have picked the arb as their focus.
We talked through the reasons why their arb is being changed, who was involved in the decisions (such as students in Enviro groups and now Bush Builders), and what was taken into account in making the plan for action this year.
They wondered why there had to be fences, and what they would be like when they were built. After looking at the big trees that will be protected by those fences, we had the idea of forming a human chain to show where the fences will run.
P1080472 P1080476 P1080481
— Naomi O’Connor, Room 18 parent and Nestegg member