Lumsden garden flourishes

Enthusiasm for learning about the environment has prompted Lumsden School students to take on a variety of projects which are challenging them to take action to make a difference. A native bush area already established in the grounds now has a walk through it, with the work done by Room 4. They have planted some more natives there and removed weeds while Room 1 made bird feeders which have encouraged birds. A fantail and other birds have been seen there which they enjoy.

Conner Fraser, Sam Cottier and Hannah Thorburn, all aged 6,
enjoying weeding their vegetable garden boxes at Lumsden School.  

Rooms 2 and 3 have established raised vegetable gardens using wooden boxes, plants and seeds donated by supportive parents.

"We used buckets, spades and muscles to bring the soil in," student Sam Cottier said.

They planted pea, radish and potato seeds and lettuce, tomato, lettuce, celery, strawberry and cabbage plants which are all flourishing. They named all the plants with special labels they designed. When they found worms in the soil that prompted an investigation to find out more about them.

Weeding and watering over the holidays will be done by students who live close by.

"We are very excited about being accepted in to the Enviro Schools programme through Environment Southland for next year," Principal Andrew Watson said. "The students have been to other Enviro Schools to get ideas and have been enthused."

Bucket Garden Day

Jaz-el  Faalologo aged 5 and Magenta Heremia aged 8, delight in creating
a bucket garden at Korimako Centre, Invercargill on Sunday
as part of Invercargill Environment Centre's event organised in
response to the international campaign '' concerns about increasing
carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. 

At the inaugural events October 24, 2009, millions of people around the world
took action to spread the number 350, considered the safe level of CO2 in the
atmosphere measured in parts per million.

As part of the continuing awareness raising Sunday 10/10/10
was chosen as the follow up day for the grassroots campaign
that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by
a common call to action.

Last year, Invercargill's action included building sandcastles
on Oreti Beach to show the effect climate change and rising sea
levels could have on coastal communities and islands.

Max Birch aged  5 from Invercargill,
with his bucket garden

Jenny in London

Kia ora e hoa ma, spring greetings. It seems we have had a very mild winter- mind you I missed the worst part by going to London and experiencing their heat wave in July!

Yes I have been very fortunate to have been invited to accompany my grandson, Corwin Newall aged 18, and another 23 young New Zealanders who were selected from the Sheila Winh Young Shakespeare national competitions, to go to Shakespeare’s London Globe Theatre! WOW.

Yes I saw the fabulous embroidered curtains made by New Zealanders – they are in the museum. We stayed at a student hostel close by the Globe with 700 others from all over Europe, in London to enjoy various educational opportunities- fabulous queueing for meals with a cacophony of different languages and very excited students!
I was able to join in all the workshops with top tutors, go on all the backstage tours and attend 6 Shakespearian productions by professional actors- Henry V111, Henry 1V parts 1 and 2, A Winter’s Tale, Measure for Measure (on the village green at Stratford- upon- Avon) and of course Macbeth which our students performed. Because the Globe is so busy our NZ adaptation of Macbeth was performed on the hallowed stage from 11pm and we got home at 1am! A dedicated group of family members and friends came to support the students and were very impressed.

Corwin as the composer in the group not only stood up above the stage and played the music he had composed but he also was acting! Very proud Granny was there to take it all in! I got to see 4 other stage productions as well as tourist, not get lost on the tubes and meet the 4 people NZers I know in London! I have decided I have got stamina!

I took photos of recycling bins as I travelled- some quite distinctive ones.
The thing which struck me was the amount of rubbish on the streets in London. People just seemed to think it was their right to drop wrappings, food, coffee cups, plastic bottles, glass bottles etc as they walked along. When I returned to Auckland I was struck by how clean our streets are here!

Jenny Campbell

Exploring Science

( from left front)    Mossburn pupils Ariana Te Whata  aged 10, Mitchell Shield 10, Jeremy Ryan 10, Anna Gallaher 9, Joshua Kalweit 10 and Ethan French 10, using a rope, a two block pulley and a single pulley to imagine how to rescue a whale from the Gulf of Mexico oil slick.

Mossburn School pupils were left with several intriguing questions after their special three days of science exploration with guest teacher Lloyd Esler recently.

"Listening to how sound travels and trying to reverse the direction from which you hear sound along with making whistles from whistlewood occupied the students initially, "Mr Esler said." With screws and levers on the second day we found that screws go in clockwise and come out anticlockwise."

The pupils marvelled at where nature has invented a screw in the seeds of the animated oat which screw themselves into the soil when they get wet. Even the smallest children could lift him up using a crowbar, showing the efficiency of a lever.

Using pulleys occupied another day, practising threading a pulley with a rope and lifting a load. Students in groups used pulleys to problem solve how to save a whale, get a giraffe back on its feet and pull a cat out of a mousehole.

Students remarked that they learned that pulleys are very efficient when they are wanting to move something heavy and that a three block system makes it three times easier to pull a whale.

Breaksea Girl provides break.

Donna Mitchell

Cooking for guests on the tourist boat, Breaksea Girl, is a far cry from a dairy farm at Five Rivers but for Donna Mitchell she knows where she would much rather be.

The high seas have their challenges in a tiny galley where paying guests expect a high class meal with all the trimmings but of course is adaptable when dolphins or some other unpredictable happening lures the guests to the bow or stern to oggle and enjoy.

Donna started by doing office work for Ruth Dalley and Lance Shaw, owners of Breaksea Girl at Manapouri. When it was discovered she did not get seasick she offered to take up the offer of cook- crew.

“ I must admit there was quite a lot of wheedling and pouting to get on the first trip, about 5 years ago,’’she said. ‘’I proved myself first on a six day trip from Doubtful Sound to Milford Sound in relatively rough conditions, not only not being seasick myself but proving I could cope with other people’s misfortune.’’

She was then employed both for office and sea work. 2010 has seen her full time after 2 years at Five Rivers being challenged by cows, calves and all that goes with a big dairy unit. Her husband Neil accepts she would much rather be at sea.

Lance, Ruth and Donna re-stock the boat before each trip being mindful of what has been used on the previous trip although occasional lapses has required Donna to be innovative with pasta, flour and vegetarian. Guests are unaware of any glitches and Donna’s smile can win people over with her creativity if there are any queries.

The variety of people who come from all around the world to experience the magic of Fiordland gives Donna her biggest thrill as she interacts, listens and enjoys this place through their eyes. She never ceases to be amazed at the unexpected and chance happenings which appear around every corner in ever-changing weather patterns ranging from still calm sunny days to challenging rain and storms.

Dolphins frolicking alongside, snorkelling to take in the fish and seaweed life, blue ducks surprising, mollymawk and royal albatross alongside visiting historic early explorers’ sites mean this is always an exciting adventure with no two days ever the same.

With this trip at the end of May being the last one under Lance as skipper, Donna has no desire to return to the life of being a dairy farmer’s wife so watch out other Fiordland skippers as she will be hounding them for a job.

‘’It has been an amazing experience working with Ruth and Lance as they live the life they believe in, founded on conservation and environmental principles, leading the way in this fragile place, ‘’Donna said. ‘’I have had my eyes open to a new vision through working alongside people as passionate as Ruth and Lance and thank them for this unique opportunity and incredible experience.’’

Honeymoon on a boot string.

Dolly and Johnathan Bain from Melbourne contemplate the last section of their ‘honeymoon on a boot string’ walk along Te Araroa, finishing at Bluff after 1500 kilometres with Johnathan’s boot wondering if it will make it.

What a way to spend the first 3 months of their married life. Johnathan and Dolly Bain from Melbourne have completed the South Island section of Te Araroa, the Long Pathway, starting at Picton’s Queen Charlotte Track and ending at Bluff.

‘’We got to know each other on a more intimate level, being with each other 24/ 7 in the backcountry,‘’ Johnathan said. ‘’Over this time, being removed from society, gave us a different perspective and set of values.’’

They agreed they rediscovered a life of simplicity; the pleasure of a meal, bed and appreciating the natural landscapes. With people along the way sharing tips, recipes and stories, they discovered a sense of community in the back country.

‘’We learned what is important on our spiritual journey, along with personal growth‘’ Dolly said.

Because Te Araroa is not officially open yet, extensive planning over many months was needed. Physical training included mid-week swims and weekend tramping, ready for their adventure. It was fulfilling to finally be on the tracks with a real sense of the big picture of the South Island they said

They constantly adapted their menu with one surprise favourite being weetbix, with smart decisions helping with pack weights and ensuring their 1500 kilometre journey was both realistic and enjoyable. For them walking the whole way was significant so they turned down lifts along the highway, trying to stay on tracks as much as possible.

‘’The Longwoods were amazing and we gained a lot of respect for the goldminers who worked in such difficult terrain,’’ Dolly said. ’’We found the Port’s Water-race track and the Long Hilly connection there, lush and beautiful.’’

Johnathan felt the Longwoods were a bit like Lord of the Rings’ Fangorn Forest with its foreboding reputation, discouraging people from finding its hidden gems.

They appreciated the hospitality along the way. One example of this included a butcher providing sausages and home-grown vegetables for their evening meal, topped off by a freshly caught trout for breakfast.

‘’We had a fantastic night at The Swamp at Nightcaps with southern hospitality and our hosts going out of their way to make us feel comfortable and special,’’ Dolly said.
‘’Reaching Bluff is the end of this pilgrimage but we are already planning what we might do next time.’’

The Long Bike Journey

Cycling opens doors

Photo Left Ella ( aged 17 months) climbs from her buggy after a 3 month cycle journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff, greeting her parents Vanessa Mudarra Caraballo and Wouter Van Wezenael.

“Cycling is the best way to travel because we go slowly, we can see, hear and smell everything and we are in touch with nature, especially when we are not on busy highways,’’ Wouter Van Wezenael says.’’My partner Vanessa and I gave up our jobs in Spain and brought our daughter Ella here, taking three months to cycle around New Zealand, with it bringing us down to earth as every day is different.”

One of the nice lessons in life they have learned here, is that when they got in to trouble something good happens which usually means other people offer to help them. They were struck by the hospitality of Kiwis who opened their homes to them, not expecting anything in return.

“Many people encouraged us as we biked with Ella in her buggy and a trailer for our gear, with roadworkers saying ‘good on you’,’’Wouter says. ‘’It was a great way to meet the locals from all walks of life who took the time to converse over a huge range of topics. We met people with extreme views but we found Kiwis are salt of the earth who just be who they are, which we enjoyed.”

“I enjoyed the people and nature here, especially the kauri forests, biking around the bays and seeing the glaciers on the West Coast,’’ Vanessa Mudarra Caraballo says.
“It has made me more determined to start a kind of backpackers as an education centre for nature conservation back home in Spain, with guided cycle tours to get young people in touch with nature.”

“We worked in with conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, raising awareness and fundraising but it is disappointing to see New Zealand struggling to live up to its clean, green image,’’Wouter says.’’It has taken us three months to grasp why it is so hard to preserve the wildlife here, which is such a contrast to Europe, as your birdlife is so vulnerable because of introduced predators.”

They agreed cycling gave them an appreciation of silence, feeling more integrated with nature and after the effort of cycling all day the end of the day was more beautiful with the journey being more important than arriving.