Specially designed cones that warn children of spraying in orchards have proved a hit with the Te Puna community.
The idea of placing warning cones for children near kiwifruit orchards adjacent to schools, Kohanga reo, marae, bus stops and sports grounds came from local children's writer Tommy Kapai Wilson and Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff under the Council's in-house Innovation Fund. The fund provides seed funding for staff who come up with bright ideas to do things more efficiently and effectively in the course of their day-to-day work.
Regional Council Pollution Prevention manager Nick Zaman and Pollution Prevention Officer John Morris were granted $1000 from the fund to launch their cone project - specially-designed road cones to warn children and adults that kiwifruit orchards in the Te Puna area had been sprayed with hi-cane, which can adversely affect some people.
The cones allow children to quickly identify orchards in the area that have been recently sprayed and understand that they should not go in or play near them. Orchards are required to notify neighbours before spraying begins, and the cones are put out to warn children.
Tommy Wilson presented to local schools, Kohanga reo, community groups and families in the area to introduce the project, and local parents monitored and managed the cones, which they named 'Cuzzi Cones'.
The local community felt the previous notification of stapling a small card to a pole outside orchards was not working. The simple solution required community involvement and engaged the children.
Regional Council Deputy Chairman Philip Sherry said the project obviously struck a chord with children and was an innovative use of a simple tool to keep youngsters aware of the dangers around them.
"Regional Council staff are often in the best position to notice a problem and work out a simple solution in their day-to-day work. This shows the value of providing funding to extend these ideas into a reality," he said.
If other communities showed the same interest in the concept it would be good to see it rolled out throughout the region, he said.