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Bayfair Shopping Centre Helping Kindergartners Conserve Water

Bayfair Shopping Centre Helping Kindergartners Conserve Water

A kindergarten at Mount Maunganui is leading the way nationally in giving lessons to young children about the value of water and the importance of its conservation. Arataki Kindergarten is working on the educational initiative with Bayfair Shopping Centre, which has installed a rain-water harvesting system at the kindergarten.

The system can capture and store up to 4,500 litres of rain-water, which flows into a 1,000-litre tank with a measuring gauge. The design means children can assess the water level before using the system to irrigate their gardens.

Bayfair, with support from other local businesses, decided to fund the project as part of its long-time promotion of environmental sustainability. Since introducing a sustainable management strategy in-centre seven years ago, Bayfair’s waste costs have dropped by 44%, and it has established New Zealand’s first waste-free food court, now diverting more than 50 tonnes of food scraps each year to compost rather than landfill.

“We take recycling and energy conservation seriously and have worked hard to improve the shopping centre’s carbon footprint through a variety of new measures,” says Steve Ellingford, Operations Manager at Bayfair. “The Arataki Kindergarten water system is one example of how we are expanding what we do to the wider Bay of Plenty community.

“Nearly one billion people worldwide lack access to safe, clean water, and we aim to teach the newest generation that water is a precious resource that is not infinite – it must be protected and conserved. We see this as a great way to encourage them and their families to find easy ways to reduce wastage.”

Arataki Kindergarten’s head teacher Tania Shorter says the local community is grateful for the system as an education tool and a valuable addition to their backyard.

“Children’s minds are wide open at this age and they’re fascinated by nature and anything interactive. With the kids starting the new term this month we are sure this is going to be a big hit!”

David Burnett from Devon Plastics and Andrew McCarthy from Tauranga Hardware & Plumbing both contributed to the project by offering their products and services at a discounted rate.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says it is wonderful to see local businesses working together to improve the environment.  “Having a rain tank at Arataki Kindergarten is a great education opportunity. Tauranga City Council's water conservation programme, Waterline, has been in place for about 10 years, and rain harvesting is a topic of increasing interest. It is great to see Bayfair also helping the kindergarten’s children learn how the city's stormwater system works, and teaching them that the 'drain is just for rain'."

Bayfair previously teamed up with Arataki Kindergarten to promote green initiatives last July, when management helped children from the kindergarten and Arataki Primary School plant trees through the Paper4Trees programme.

Bayfair is a leading sponsor of Paper4Trees in Tauranga and Western Bay schools, and the initiative saw 311.5 tonnes of paper and cardboard recycled in exchange for 1,246 new native trees.

“If all businesses made an effort to be more sustainable – no matter how big or small – we could together make an enormous difference to the world in which these children will grow up,” Mr Ellingford says.

“We hope the Arataki Kindergarten children enjoy collecting and using their rain-water from now on and learn some valuable lessons about sustainability along the way.” 

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