Saturday, February 23 was not a day for sleeping in for Sancta Maria College’s Enviro Team – in fact, quite the opposite. Accompanied by Mrs Colmer and Mrs McCreath, these students spent the morning at Bunnings Botany Ti Rakau, feeding shoppers with delicious home-baked goods and raising $565 to go towards building a butterfly garden at school to attract butterflies and hopefully help the declining population.

While everyone knows about brownies and cakes, not many people know about the decreasing population of pollinators. Butterflies, bumblebees and other animals of their kind are essential to living organisms, because they help to maintain plants on Earth. They help plants to make fruit or seeds, which in turn helps us and other animals by giving us food – meaning that without pollinators, we wouldn’t have anything on earth to eat.

However, pollinators are diminishing in New Zealand. Social wasps were first brought to NZ to control the cabbage white butterfly (because they were slowly destroying NZ crops, particularly cabbage), but they’ve now found a new food: monarch butterflies. These butterflies are more than beautiful creatures – they are important to help living organisms live. While they feed themselves on nectar, they’re also pollinating all sorts of different flowers on our planet, keeping them alive, and making sure that they fruit and seed.

Other pollinators are also facing the same problem – and it’s not just because of animals. Humans are also playing a huge role in this. Many butterflies and bumblebees are dying due to the pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals farmers use on their crops. And it’s not only in NZ – in the US, the number of monarch butterflies has decreased by 90% in only 2 decades.

But building this butterfly garden will not be an easy feat – the amazing volunteers from the Enviro team will have to work hard over the next few weeks: laying down polythene sheets, pulling dead grass, preparing the earth and then finally sowing seeds for flowers to grow. This garden will be a huge project, but in the end it will all be worth it – because it all circles back to us. These butterflies have helped to keep us alive by pollinating, and now it’s our turn to help them stay alive.

Not only is it a project for the Enviro Team, but it will also affect other subject areas, so this butterfly garden will make a change in the whole school – a change we are all anticipating.

Thank you so much to Bunnings Warehouse Botany for helping make this butterfly garden possible – you have really contributed so much, and the money raised at the bake sale will make a huge difference in our future garden.

Alanna Santoso