As part of their science studies, Year 9 and 10 students decided to create a sign to overlook the lagoon across from the school, reminding people about the impact plastics can have on the environment.
At the sign’s unveiling ceremony yesterday, principal Harry Neale urged the students to take ownership of their surrounding area.
“We need to be conscious about being stewards of our land and our responsibility to look after nature.
“This sign wasn’t just created to ‘say something’. Instead, we put it there with a purpose, which is to make sure those who visit our lagoon area, are aware of the impact their plastic consumption can have on our environment.”
Joining in the ceremony were Te Ipukarea Society project officer Liam Kokaua, Stan Wolfgramm from Te Ara Museum and visiting environmentalist Phil Somerville.
Last week Wolfgramm helped the students to create plastic fish that now hang from the sign, as well as talking to the youngsters about environmental issues currently faced by the Cook Islands.
Somerville, from the “Eat Less Plastic” organisation, said he was proud of how environmentally-conscious the students already were.
“Stan and I have known each other since we were at high school in Auckland and now here we both are fighting against the use of plastics.
“Not just here at Papaaroa, but all across the island I have been very impressed with the conversations being had and how proactive many of you are about caring for your environment.”
Science teacher Colleen Berry has helped to initiate weekly rubbish clean-ups along the lagoon outside the school.
“Our current unit, ‘We Can’t Eat Plastic Fish’ has been about learning how plastic can affect the environmental across the different streams of science,” Berry said.
“We have looked at it from a chemical point of view when plastics are burnt and they end up in the lagoon, how the weather can wash leftover plastic lying around into our rivers and lagoons and in our physics studies we have learnt about the currents and the five gyres that are floating around the pacific."
Berry said on the back of the sign she included a special message for the students of Papaaroa – ‘Think globally, act locally’.
“I really want the students of Papaaroa to see themselves as guardians of the island as a whole, not just where they live and here at school.
“They need to understand that even though we live here on a small island, what they do here can have an impact globally.”