Runanga School Shines Their Way Out of the Pike Mine Disaster

Although this school was personally and directly effected by the tragic losses at the nearby Pike Mine last November, the spirit there is bright and supportive and forward-looking.  It was a truly special place to spend a morning with my local host, Kim McPherson.

Barbara's kids do freshwater research in the library.

The kids were excited about the idea of studying eels and the completely engaged staff all gathered around for tea and fresh fruit, and eel talk!  We are grateful for the additions Runanga School near Greymouth will make to the tapestry.

April, one of the warmly caring parent volunteers there, confessed to us all over tea her initial reaction to someone trying to help save gross, slimy, weird eels.  However, an open-minded woman who is a life-long learner and explorer, April admitted to being totally enthralled by the eels’ amazing life-cycle story and now happily sees these special NZ fish in a whole new way.  She also spoke about her childhood memories of scooping tadpoles out of the nearby creek to watch them metamorphose into frogs, and the sad fact that now when she takes her grandkids to that same creek there just are no more tadpoles.

April, sharing her thoughts on shifting baselines of NZ freshwater habitats.

April, Trish, Barbara and their Runanga students recognize the need to change the ways we do things in order to redeem healthy freshwater ecosystems.  It was faith-renewing to be with folks who were open-minded and ready to find ways to live sustainably and healthfully with necessary farming, mining, industry, and the like.  A couple of the boys even spoke to me after class and said that they used to catch and kill eels for fun, but now see that they are there to protect the eels… to be eel guardians.  My own dad would be proud to know that there are boys out there who see themselves in this way… They are on their way to becoming real men, I think

Before leaving, Trish proudly took us out to the wee stream running behind the school.  Joy (the school’s principal) and her husband Doug cared about that stream and had the kids re-vegetate it several years ago to offer shade and filtration to the native species within it.  Trish and Barbara’s kids will soon visit the stream to see what is living in it, and compare what they find to the samples taken before the plants were planted.

Tadpole sketching...

freshwater sketching

concentration and care


So, “Cheers” to all the responsible environmental stewards at Runanga!

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2 Responses to Runanga School Shines Their Way Out of the Pike Mine Disaster

  1. Barbara Swaine says:

    Thanks for a wonderful session! We were fascinated by your story of Velvet and had a really active morning. Looking forward to getting on with our sewing!

    • stephaniejoh says:

      I’m so glad you and the kids had such a good time and are excited to be sewing! I’m just starting to get info from some of the first schools I worked with on the North Island that they have finished sewing their sections and LOVE them so much they are displaying them at their schools before mailing them out. It is so wonderful for me to think of everyone there busily and joyfully sewing for the mauri of the wai! Thanks for sharing, Tuna Wahine

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