Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Community Engagement team welcomed over 200 primary students from around the region to the Hands on Water Expo last week at Redwood Valley Farm near Paengaroa.
The region has some key challenges for managing freshwater in the Bay of Plenty and the two-day expo gave students opportunities to learn about freshwater ecosystems, processes and conservation in a hands-on manner. “This is a great way for students in our region to be learning about the role they have in ensuring we manage our water resources sustainably as well as increasing their knowledge of how the water is monitored and used, “ said General Manager Strategy and Science Fiona McTavish. “The feedback Council staff have already had has been positive and is encouraging especially as water quality and quantity are a community outcome”.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council partnered with Department of Conservation, Western Bay of Plenty Council, Tauranga City Council, and Rotorua Lakes Council as well as Enviroschools to coordinate the event. This ensured there was a broad range of activities for students to participate in, run by experts in the field. Measuring water clarity and flow, Mātauranga Māori, urban water management, riparian planting, freshwater monitoring and exploring where water goes were all features of the expo. Students were able to roll their sleeves up and really enjoy a hands-on water experience.
With regional council providing bus transport for all attending schools at no cost, each participating school brought up to ten students with a teacher. Due to popular demand this year, 10 schools participated each day. “Traditionally, the Expo is oversubscribed that’s why it was two days this year. We understand that schools would like to bring more of their students, which is great but it would mean we’re here all week!” said Community Engagement Team Leader Kerry Gosling. The Hands on Water Expo has restrictions on the number of students that can attend at any one time to ensure we maintain the biodiversity of the environment that the expo is held in.