School mucks in with Horizons for water quality and habitat protection

Koputaroa School students joined Horizons Regional Council at a Horowhenua property today to plant alongside Koputaroa Stream to help improve water quality and habitat for native fish.

Landowners Dan and Kushla Okano were a recipient of a Horizons freshwater grant which covered 50 per cent of the plant costs and included advice around what to plant where.
Horizons freshwater manager Logan Brown says 2,000 native plants went in the ground to create a 20 metre wide riparian margin along 295 metres of the stream.
“This will help reduce soil run-off into the stream and establish a rich habitat for native aquatic life such as giant kokopu, banded kokopu, koaro, redfin bully, tuna and kakahi,” he says.
“The mix of native plants that have been planted provide different sources of food for insects, which fish can eat as they drop onto the water surface, and birds. They also shade the water and keep it nice and cool for our fish.”
The Okanos had been planning the planting for over a year and were pleased to discover that Horizons could provide funding and advice.
“It’s been a huge task to get to here and we’re so grateful to Horizons and my employer Plimmer Plumbing who have co-funded the plants,” says Kushla Okano.
“We’re really lucky to be able to work with like-minded organisations whose environmental sustainability goals align with ours.”
Kushla says the planting day provided an opportunity for the next generation to learn about water quality and invited their daughter’s school to attend.
“Today is about action, kids getting their hands dirty and being part of a change. We’re really passionate about the role we all have to care for the land and hope the day creates meaning for the kids involved.”
Koputaroa teacher Becky Ward and parent helpers supervised 60 students at the planning day who were transported to the day via a bus sponsored by Horizons. 
“Our school is committed to making a difference in the world, both environmentally and socially,” says Ms Ward.
“Events like today teach the kids the importance of giving back to the community for the benefit of future generations, all without expecting anything in return. We were also treated to a stream study with Horizons’ environmental educator to gain an understanding of how the planting links to water quality.”
Mr Brown says today’s planting is the first phase for the Okanos, who only purchased the property a year ago.
“They’ve set a goal of turning 15 of their 40 acres back into native reserve and have already identified planting they hope to complete next season along a different stretch of the stream,” he says.
“This will likely mean another funding application and further contribution in the area from Horizons which we’re more than happy to do. For anyone who would like to learn more about Horizons’ freshwater grants, please get in touch with our team by ringing 0508 800 800.”
For more information about the planting work Horizons does across the region follow their #plantinourregion campaign on social media or see here