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Photo by Donna Lee

Year 11 Geography: Environmental Sustainability Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere

Ms D Lee —

Our main aim was to investigate the contemporary geographic issue of dairy farm intensification on the Canterbury Plains. A range of specialists worked with us in the field representing their unique perspective.

The Year 11 geography students had a great day out in the Selwyn district collecting primary data for their internal assessments on the sustainable use of an environment. 

Mr. Phil Musson, a fourth generation dairy farmer located at Springston South,  provided an informative tour around his dairy farm. It was certainly a full sensory experience and gumboots were a must!! Students attained greater understanding of the stringent environmental compliances that farmers must adhere to. He discussed his award-winning sustainable farming practices - such as riparian planting and building a state-of-the-art winter sheltering barn and effluent pond to help mitigate nitrogen leaching and sediment run-off.  His newest initiative is  with Fonterra and DOC's Living Water programme. They will apply the latest science to restore the fresh water ecology of the Arira River - LII, a branch of which flows at the front of Mr Musson's farm.

At the lower Selwyn huts we met long-term local resident, artist and environmentalist; Mr. Mike Glover. He spoke passionately on the very poor state of the Selwyn River and Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere. He is concerned that young people can no longer swim and conduct recreational pursuits in the river as previous generations have.

Next we visited Coes Ford where an abundance of Freedom Campers were spotted. Then we continued on to have a break at Lakeside where we had lunch.

At Harts Creek the Water Watch team helped students conduct scientific research on the water quality levels. Decked out in waders - students collected water samples and then worked through a series of tasks in groups. 

We then visited Fisherman's Point and Taumutu to discover some of the early histories of the lake and particularly, the cultural significance to Maori. Students also learned how Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere is currently managed.

Needless to say, the Year 11 Geography students' have produced some amazing work and are highly passionate about environmental sustainability.

Check out our Radio New Zealand Country Life interview.