Tahuna Student Volunteer Army takes part in Riparian Planting Project.

By Lauren Pugh | Posted: Sunday November 25, 2018

As one of 25 groups across the country , three students from each of Tahuna’s nine Year 8 classes were endorsed by their classroom teachers to be a part of the 2018 Tahuna SVA. They completed Riparian planting on a local dairy farm.

What does S.V.A. stand for and where did it originate?

The Student Volunteer Army (SVA) originated in Christchurch following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. University students from around Christchurch started a volunteer army to help clean up the city, organising events to support and give back to their community. It quickly became a widely publicised news story with more ‘volunteer army’ inspired events popping up around the country.

SchoolKit are a company who provide amazing free resources to schools. They team up with SVA every year to provide a kit to schools that support students in organising and running a volunteer event in their local community. This year DairyNZ jumped on board and generously provided 25 schools with $500 to go towards Riparian Planting projects throughout the country. Our school was lucky enough to be provided with this awesome sponsorship! We would like to thank DairyNZ for this opportunity and sponsorship.

Three students from each of Tahuna’s nine Year 8 classes were endorsed by their classroom teachers to be a part of the 2018 Tahuna SVA. These students were chosen due to their strong interest in the environment, shown in our term 3 Sustainability Inquiry.

Our first job was to find out what Riparian Planting was.

Riparian planting means planting the areas beside waterways. The types of plants that are used along the sides of waterways include Flax, Cabbage trees, Hebe, and much more. Farmers use mostly native plants with a mix of non-native plants.

Planting plays an important part because it stabilises and benefits the land by protecting riparian systems from livestock by discouraging cattle and sheep from going near the waterways. Riparian planting also dilutes and filters the animal waste that enters the waterways allowing cleaner water to run through the streams and rivers and into our lakes and oceans with less pollution.

We reached out to a local farmer from Maungatua Dairies who was very happy for us to come out and complete some Riparian planting for a day. He also suggested taking us to the milking sheds on his farm and to see some calves which we were really excited about.

Before we could go out to the farm and start planting there was a lot we had to do and some of those things were:

  • Getting jobs for the students i.e. planners, caterers, storytellers, H.Q., first aid and safety offices etc.

  • We had to learn what riparian planting is, how it is done and why it is done.

  • We had to complete the tasks that were assigned to our jobs like organising the food, the equipment, sorting out transport, getting parent help etc.

  • We had to find out where exactly we were going (so nobody got lost!)

Once most of those things were finished the next step was to get our trees from Blueskin Bay nurseries. With the $500 provided to us, through the sponsorship through DairyNZ, we were able to purchase a mix of 100 native trees and shrubs thanks to the help of Blueskin Bay nurseries.

Thank you Blueskin Bay for this opportunity and we hope to continue this relationship for years to come.

On Thursday the 1st of November, 3 children from each of the year 8 classes went out to Matt Kerr’s dairy farm, out near the airport, where we spent most of our day.

First of all, we came to school around 8:30 and we had to pack all of our gear into the vans. Once everything was packed and ready we got into our cars and set off for the farm. The farm was a good 30-45 minutes away. When we arrived at the farm we had to walk to where we were going to plant the plants.

When we arrived, we got out our gloves and shovels and started to plant the native plants we bought. We took lots of photos of the day as you can see. In total, we planted 100 plants over a 1,000 metre square area along the creek, which included native plants such as Harakeke, Kowhai and other plants. We added stakes and shields to protect the plants as they grow.

Once we had finished planting we went back to the main part of the farm and had some lunch. For our delicious lunch we had some sausages and bread with sauce, bacon butties, muesli bars and fruit. This food was kindly prepared by the SVA caterers. We are very grateful to New World for providing sponsorship to help fund our lunch.

At the end of the day, we had a tour around the farm and went to the cow sheds and saw some calves.A couple of us got to go in with the calves and feed them. We also were lucky enough to go see the milking sheds. We were allowed to have a look around and learn a little bit about the milking process. Tahuna will hopefully be going to the same farm and try planting another 100 every year to help the farmer. We’ve made a start on a very important project and would love to keep building on this work.

We would like to thank the following people and organisations:

  • Blueskin Bay Nurseries for giving us the trees we needed for $500. They gave us such a great deal!

  • New World for kindly giving us $100 in vouchers for the food we needed

  • The Tahuna School Council for giving us another $100 for the remaining equipment we needed

  • We would like to personally thank the three parent helpers who gave up their time to come out and help a bunch of children with planting trees. The day would not have gone ahead without you

  • Matt Kerr, our local dairy farmer who allowed us to visit and plant on his property. He had worked hard with his team to prepare the land for planting


We would like to thank everyone who either participated or helped through the process of this project including all those involved in the SVA this year. Without you filling in your roles and responsibilities the day would not have gone ahead.

Sarah Pearce, Caitlin McLaren, John Strange

Impact Officers/Community Liasons

Student Volunteer Army 2018

Tahuna Normal Intermediate School