Hokitika Primary, Westland
Hokitika Primary School was visited on the 14th September 2016.
This was the second school visited by Murray Dawson, David Glenny and Robinne Weiss, and followed hard on the heels of our successful trip to Whataroa School.
Although we had the daunting task of handling three combined classes in a tighter half day time-frame, all went well. We divided the group of 45 students into two, with Robinne teaching half of the class inside and Murray, David and teachers supervising the field exercise in and behind the school grounds. We then swapped the inside and outside groups around.
Our Hokitika School students were very enthusiastic and enjoyed learning about, recording, collecting and pressing the weeds that we discovered together.
What were some of the plants that we found?
The first plant we came across was the innocuous English daisy (Bellis perennis), a very common weed found in lawns, and providing a good example for the classes to learn how to use the iNaturalist smartphone app to record the other weeds that they went on to find.
Not surprisingly, there was a similar range of environmental weeds around Hokitika School as we found further south at Whataroa, including:
- creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
- English ivy (Hedera helix)
- gorse (Ulex europaeus)
- Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
- privet (Ligustrum)
- Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius).
We also found onion weed (Allium triquetrum), and handed out pieces for the students to taste, explaining that this is an example of a culinary herb that has escaped gardens to become a weed. We also pointed out its characteristic triangular flowering stems which give rise to its other common name 'three-cornered leek'. The students enjoyed finding something they could eat, but we were careful to explain that there are many poisonous plants and that very few wild plants are edible. Onion weed is common in Westland and Auckland and, whenever we came across it, we taught about this plant in visits to the other schools.
We puzzled over one shrub found in the weedy area behind the school. It was obviously a conifer, but with soft foliage. Once we posted it online, our finding was discussed by the online community and it was concluded to be a juvenile Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica).