“It was great helping the nuns, it was fun planting the trees, we loved it”, were just some of the instant responses from Room 8 students from Whanganui’s St Mary’s School. On August 30, they ventured across the railway line to muck in and help their neighbours, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, plant manuka and kanuka trees on hillsides of Mt St Joseph.
Looking after the earth involved all ages as the sisters, students and 20 staff from Harcourts Real Estate worked together.

Some students planted while others climbed up and down with buckets of mulch to backfill the holes. Department of Corrections community workers finished all the planting by the end of the week.

The sisters had just secured 500 trees from a $750 grant from the Horizons Regional Council. They were one of 12 community groups across the Manawatu-Whanganui region to receive funding from a community grants programme.

They were also one of seven lucky groups from 1000 applicants from the Trees That Count Initiative, which saw them awarded another 300 trees. Rotary North further donated 60 trees, one for each Rotary member.

And the trees needed to be planted!

“The call came out from the sisters for help in planting and proved an excellent response to our service module in helping others,” said class teacher and St Mary’s DRS Cath Daignault.

The 2015 June floods caused a lot of slips and the need to plant these trees was essential to avoid further erosion on the hillside.

The fantastic day finished with scones and pikelets for the adults and juice and lollies for the weary students.