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Northern pupils learn how to make compost

Monday September 18, 2017 Written by Published in Outer Islands
TIS project officer Alanna Smith with students from Tukao School. 17091435 TIS project officer Alanna Smith with students from Tukao School. 17091435

The GEF Small grants schools composting training programme has officially arrived to the northern Cook Islands starting off with Manihiki henua and Rakahanga henua.


Because the northern group are made up of atoll islands, compost is difficult to come across naturally, but still possible through composting techniques and practices.

There was much interest from people on both islands in starting vegetable gardens of their own at home, hence a lot of interest from the wider community to learn more about composting as a whole.

Te Ipukarea Society project officer Alanna Smith made the trip up north along with a handful of Red Wriggler compost worms from Rarotonga to start worm farm populations on schools in Manihiki and Rakahanga. Ruamanu School in Tauhunu village, Manihiki was the first school to receive the compost training session.

The students took to the training well and were able to find a rotten coconut tree base, which was used as soil to fill up the worm farm bin.

Tukao School also received a compost training session and now own a compost bin. Pawpaw, watermelons, bananas, guavas, apple star, dragon fruits, tomatoes, vi kavakava, lime, taro, pumpkin and Chinese cabbage are some of the fruits and vegetables that grow on Manihiki, and these plants can now be supplemented with compost and worm tea produced from the worm farm and compost bin located at both schools.

The president of Tauhunu’s woman’s organisation Nga Taio, and hydroponics officer Raita Vakapora were among those who attended the training session, as well as all the local school students.

A worm farm and compost bin was also given to Rakuraku school in Rakahanga. Rakahanga produces dragon fruit, pawpaw, bananas, guavas, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumbers, bok choy and spinach. Worms from Rarotonga also started the worm farm population at Rakuraku school and again a rotten coconut tree made for great soil to start off the worm farm bin. 

Temu Banaba who runs the local chicken farm and the MP for Rakahanga, Basil Toka Hagai, were also present at the school’s training session to learn more about composting.

The SRICC “learning by doing” weather stations project also officially started on Manihiki and Rakahanga.

Climate change is a relatively new strategic area for Te Ipukarea Society, and the school weather stations project is the start of many climate change-related projects to come.

Under this project, students were introduced to a range of different weather instruments that can measure weather variables within their micro climate.

The aim of this project is for school students to be able to predict and forecast weather patterns to be better prepared for changes in weather, as well as to be able to make their own weather records.

Instruments included a barometer to measure air pressure, a kestrel meter to measure relative humidity, wind speed and temperature, a rain gauge for rainfall and a wireless weather station which measures all the above variables on one digital monitor.

Mere Raui from Te Ipukarea Society will travel to Penryhn by boat within the next week to conduct both training at Tetautua and Omoka schools.

Meitaki maata to the school principals, Anna Rauru of Ruamanu School, Apii Napa of Tukao School and Sharon Masters of Rakuraku school for supporting Te Ipukarea Society’s school projects, and of course to the Manihiki and Rakahanga community for your hospitality to Alanna.

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