Mucking in at Merivale School

Ugly, rusty, mouldy and scratchy to sit on – Room 7 at their playground bench. Photo: Nikki South.

They hit The Weekend Sun with a mass mail dump to hammer home the message.

Well, it was one big envelope containing 12 of the best letters written by the kids in Room 7 at Merivale School – ‘your place’ they call it. Letters like this one.

“The Editor, The Weekend Sun. Could you please help us to beautify our school.” It’s signed Shyla.

“We want our school to be as beautiful as the children who come to learn here and the people who teach them,” says Dolly Rall, the Room 7 teacher.

“So we are having a Mucking In Week starting on Monday, September 10,” says another class member called Hera. “Would it be possible to advertise this in your newspaper?” Yes Hera, it would be possible.

But it was a close thing. Because the big envelope arrived in the mail at The Weekend Sun right on deadline. That’s explained by a bright red sticker on the big envelope. ‘Item may have been delayed due to insufficient postage,’ says the sticker signed by New Zealand Post.

But the main thing is the mail and the message got through. Hera’s letter continues: “We would like to have extra helpers, water blasting, painters, financial support to do these jobs.”

And everyone is invited. “We have a roster set up and anyone who would like to come to Merivale School and pick a time slot to muck in with us is welcome. Neighbours, friends, parents – everyone’s invited,” says Dolly.

Even students from Bethlehem and Aquinas Colleges have put up their hands – a bit of cross-town inter-school goodwill. “And people from our school sponsors KPMG.”

They’re the audit, tax and advisory outfit people. They’re the same people that pop into Merivale School every morning for The Breakfast Club, three employees every morning ensure the Merivale kids don’t start class with an empty tum.

“They’re all fabulous and we are very lucky,” says Dolly.

Talk to birthday girl Awhina Jack-Kino of Room 7, she turns nine today, and her ‘mucking in’ priority is the “not nice, rusty and mouldy” playground bench. A very prominent note in the Merivale School foyer describes the bench as “ugly and scratchy” to sit on. That is up the list of things to do. “It will be painted blue, the school colour,” assures Awhina.  Rhonda and Tanya from The Literacy Group have donated $50 and will lead the charge on restoring the bench.

That’s the sort of help Merivale School needs for its mucking in. Judah Campbell, a 7-year-old in Room 7, says the big long paling border fence needs a good water blast. “And the poles holding the shade sail also need painting.”

The juniors’ playground boasts an impressive play structure. The seniors’ playground, or backfield, nothing – nothing except ball games. “We would love to create something for the seniors,” says Dolly. But any development depends on who supports the school, who comes along and mucks in.

“Mon-eeeeeey!” cries an excited Awhina. She’s just been given an envelope with a couple of green banknotes towards the mucking in. “Ta-da! Thank you very much.” That’s paid for a surprise, a big smile and an equally big pot of paint perhaps.

So back to the mail bag. “We will need people to know about our Mucking-In-Week” insists Geovane.” Because we will need many of them to come and help us.” “We would like support from the community,” pleads Jahkayla. “Put a notice in your newspaper,” demanded Kortez. “Thank you.” “WE will need a big group of volunteers to do different jobs,” says Shyla. Basically the kids of Merivale School need help to help themselves. “And we would really appreciate the support.”

In the middle of our chat with The Weekend Sun, the bells go off. They’re start ringing. Is it an alarm? Is there a fire? Should we evacuate? “No,” says Awhina. Relax, it’s morning, class is out. 

Merivale School would love to hear from you if you have time, expertise, goods or services, or even a donation towards Mucking In Week – making ‘your place’ an even more beautiful place. Email: or call: 07 578 6900.