Mahurangi College is a step closer to formally occupying around nine hectares of native bush bordering the school and the Mahurangi River that it is using as a “living classroom”.
Rodney Local Board voted last month to approve the public notification of Auckland Council’s intention to grant the Board of Trustees a community licence to occupy the blocks of native bush in Falls Road River Reserve and View Road Bush Reserve.
When and if that is finally approved, the college will hold its licence for 10 years, and have one 10-year right to renew it. The standard licence term is for five years, but Board members heard from college representatives that this period was too short.
Forest project coordinator Colin Binsted said they needed to raise up to $400,000 to build a bridge across the river for students to access the northern bank, so a 10-year licence was needed to enable and encourage effective fundraising.
“We’ve got a pontoon to cross at the moment, and we’re getting a slipway,” he said. “We’ve got people in the community donating their services for free. We need security of tenure.”
Principal David Macleod said the outdoor learning initiative started in 2018 had become a key part of school life.
“We’ve elevated this project right up there, the ‘living forest’,” he said. “We’re getting support from the whole community and our students have an absolute passion, it’s the heart of our kids in college.”
The meeting heard that students had already caught 30 rats by trapping around the school grounds, had learnt about and established kauri dieback protocols, and were using the outdoor learning areas across a range of subjects.
Board of Trustees chair Dean Iverson said the board saw hands-on outdoor education as important, not least since the number of students struggling with anxiety issues had been increasing.
The non-exclusive community licence will replace a memorandum of understanding between Rodney Local Board and the college’s Board of Trustees that was signed in June last year.