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Published: 2011-08-25 00:00:00

Eight school children fundraising to attend an international conference have been given a boost with a $5000 grant from Waikato Regional Council.

The cash injection was awarded from the Enviroschools Grant Fund at this morning’s council meeting.

Regional council chairman Peter Buckley said: It’s an opportunity for us to invest in young people looking at real issues affecting our region and who will be great ambassadors for the Waikato and the country.”

The ‘2011 International Kids Teaching Kids River Conference’ brings together children and young people from throughout the world who are taking action for the health of their waterways.

Puahue and Tauwhare schools joined together to send eight children to Adelaide in October, with two teachers and two parents. The two rural schools will be the only New Zealand schools to attend the conference.

The Waikato team will present a 40-minute workshop – one of over 50 to be held during the three day conference.

In preparation for attending the conference, the representative students and their peers have been researching and exploring waterways in their local area, and collaboratively preparing the interactive presentation.

Already they have been presenting to the wider community, talking about what the area, streams and Waikato River used to be like and how human impacts have changed them. Their presentation also looks are what actions can be taken to restore the Waikato River to its best.

In their application the schools told the regional council the students would be providing other young people an opportunity to “hear and learn about our precious natural resources, what we have found out about our local waterways through experiences and investigation, the issues that have been identified and possible actions for the future.

“We want to showcase with pride, the sanctuary sites such as Pirongia and Maungatautari that have been part of our exploration and link these to our vision,” they said in their application.

Council schools programme coordinator Andrea Soanes said both schools were actively involved in the Enviroschools programme.

“I have supported the schools in their exploration of water quality and their environment through field trips this year. Puahue and Tauwhare both have a whole school focus on learning about water,” Ms Soanes said.

It is the tenth year the international conference has been held, she said, and the students would come together in Adelaide to teach each other about what they have learnt locally.

“It is kids presenting to kids and also making recommendations as to how they would like to be involved in their regions now and into the future.”

It will cost around $14,000 for the children and adults to attend the conference. Already the students have been doing fundraising themselves, with the help of their parents, as well as presenting to Rotary and Waipa District Council seeking funding.