A group of ELTO officials have been playing a part in helping improve Wellington’s environment while they are studying here.

Khaing Khaing Win from Myanmar ready to plant
Khaing Khaing Win from Myanmar ready to plant
On Saturday  9 May they  volunteered with the Forest and Bird organisation helping create a place for Penguins to nest near Scorching bay at the west of Point Halswell on Miramar Peninsula, and the next weekend they helped plant 2000 trees on Ahumairangi  Hill on the Northern Town Belt as part of Victoria University’s Growing Graduates Programme.
 
The programme aims to plant 10,000 locally-grown seedlings over five years to celebrate Victoria University’s new graduates, enhance the local landscape, and create lasting connections between the university and the city.
 
Khaing Khaing Win from Myanmar explained what they did at Scorching Bay. “I went there together with my conversation buddy and three ELTO friends. When we arrived there, we learned about various kinds of weeds that are not suitable for penguin nesting. We had to pull out these weeds and replant the area with native plants.
 
Before lunch, we worked there for 2 hours and after finishing lunch we continued to plant and took the weeds to the road side. We met other volunteers and worked together. Although we were tired, we were very happy thinking of the penguins. My buddy also drove around the bays when we came back to our apartment. So, we saw the beautiful coastline and got fresh air. I thought that I will never forget this event.”
 
Thi Thanh Hoa Vu from Vietnam talked with some of the older people there:
“They said that they had volunteered for four years though this work is not easy. When I dug holes for planting, I could see that even the top soil is very rocky, it was so difficult to dig but all the volunteers worked very hard without a break except fifteen minutes for lunch.
 
This is the most meaningful work I have ever done in New Zealand. Hopefully, when I come back to Vietnam I can do something to help save environment like New Zealanders.”
 
EiEi Mon from Myanmar also felt very happy and satisfied to have that chance. “It is one of the reasons that I appreciate New Zealanders because they are always enthusiastic to do volunteering and try to do the necessary things for the environment. In our country, the young generation must be cultured to love the environment starting from the primary schools,” she said.
 
Hoa also helped with planting on Ahumairangi Hill on the Town Belt.
“I met a lot of Victoria  students and  they were friendly, responsible and hard working. We planted plants together and had interesting conversations. Moreover, there were some children taking part in this program, although it was quite hard for them to climb up the hill, they often fell down.  Their parents said that it was a good lesson for them to learn how to cope with difficulties and a good experience for them to plant the trees.”
Thi Thu Huong Tran  from  Vietnam said she gained a lot more knowledge about protecting the environment in Wellington.
 
“I improved my awareness about some kinds of plants but also contributed to the  community.
Khaing reported that there were about 50 volunteers, both Victoria University alumni and students.
 
“All the people worked happily together by digging, planting, collecting plastic bags and labelling the trees. I was very happy planting the trees because I liked the theme of this event. This was that ‘the trees are symbolic of Victoria University graduates’ educational journey and the path they will follow.  Just as graduates will contribute to society through the skills they have developed, the trees will enhance the Wellington landscape and contribute to environmental well-being.’ I feel extremely grateful to this University and proud to be an alumnus. Therefore, this is my life time activity.”
Helping penguin habitat at Scorching Bay
Planting the hills high above Wellington
Demonstration of volunteerplanters
Students learn how to plant