Central to the vision of Wai Restoration is the desire to restore New Zealand’s water and waterways and to enable and encourage young people to lead the change.
Wai Restoration is a programme that teaches practical agricultural, horticulture and Earth care skills informed by underpinning environmental, enterprise and sustainability principles.
Wai Restoration is divided in to six interdependent parts: Wai Fencing, Wai Nurseries, Wai Planting, Wai Maintenance, Wai Monitoring and Wai Enterprise.
The goal of Wai Fencing is to build fences to exclude stock from waterways and other biodiversity hotspots.
Ideally students go on-site with fencing instructors to practice their skills along waterways that need fencing. When students become competent fence builders we assess them against NZQA approved standards.
Students with an aptitude toward fencing may be channelled in to internships or apprenticeships with fencing contractors or encouraged to set up their own fence contracting enterprise.
Most secondary schools have functional, if under utilised, horticulture facilities. Students learn skills important to operating a small nursery. Skills range from plant propagation through business planning to selling riparian plants. Students will run a small nursery as a small enterprise with the goal of growing native riparian plants.
As part of their enterprise skills they will market riparian plants to farmers and other potential users. The aim is for each school to plant, grow and sell in the region of 5-10 000 riparian plants a year.
The goal of Wai Planting is to teach students techniques of planting out a riparian margin. Students learn to match species with a variety of terrains. They will learn which native species are effective diverters, filters and absorbers of farm runoff.
Again, where appropriate there will be an enterprise component where students may charge a small fee for each plant that goes in to the riparian strip.
The biggest challenge to plants in a riparian margin is the threats from competition and consumption. Students will learn how to clear plants to reduce competition and how to reduce predatory pressure from rabbits and other pests keen to feed off the plants.
Learning to understand and recognise the health of a waterway is an essential component of any attempt to restore or improve water quality.
Monitoring enables students to understand a waterway's baseline state. Taking baseline measures enables students to measure, record and observe change. Change in the condition of water may indicate the effectiveness of restoration projects or be used as a tool to identify threat.
Monitoring produces the type of evidence demanded if we are to recognise good and poor land management habits and methods.
Students involved in the longer Papa Taiao Earthcare courses will learn the techniques of water monitoring.
Currently there are no NZQA authorised standards that students can gain for this. However, monitoring the health of water ways is essential to any student hoping to take positive Action to restore local water ways and can be the basis of numerous subjects in the NZ Curriculum including Biology, Math and Chemistry.
One of the over-riding goals of Te Papa Taiao Earthcare is for students to see a future in working for the environment. Wai Enterprise encourages students to investigate ways of making a living from the sustainable use of a natural resource like water.
Papa Taiao supports students to develop a small sustainable business through an idea we call $$$. The $$$ translates in to students charging:
- $1 for growing the riparian plants for the farmer, council or community group,
- $1 for planting the plants in a riparian strip, and
- $1 for maintaining each plant in the riparian margin
Students run the business from their school. They:
- grow the plants
- manage the costs
- market their plants
- sell their plants, then
- distribute the profits within themselves
The goal is that students learn to manage natural resources in a positive way and to make a profit.
Monitoring water quality and making reports for farmers is another potential enterprise students can engage in. Again, the goal is for students to develop, market and sell products and services that have potential benefit to the community and the environment.
The Enterprise and EfS standards are Achievement Standards and can be used for credit toward literacy and University Entrance.