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Making a difference… Aaliyah Raja , aged 10, right, with friends Seth Smedick, aged 10, and Alyssa Jackman, aged 10, at the Tuhaitara Coastal Park.

By SHELLEY TOPP

A Pegasus Bay schoolgirl has written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern inviting her to visit Waimakariri’s Tuhaitara Coastal Park.

Aaliyah Raja, aged 10, is a member of the Pegasus Bay School’s Science Academy.

The school is part of the biota node environmental recovery programme being run at the coastal park by general manager Greg Brynes with schools and community groups.

Aaliyah wants the prime minister to visit the 575-hectare park so she can see the work being done in the programme.

“I know you are very passionate about the environment,” Aaliyah writes.

“In Pegasus we have wetlands, a beach, a lake and a pine forest. These habitats are a sanctuary for many birds and animals, including some special native ones,” she says.

“I am part of our school’s Science Academy. We are a group of passionate students who care about the environment like you.”

“Have you ever heard of a biota node? With the help of Greg (Byrnes), our Science Academy teacher, we have been creating these in the forest at Tuhaitara Coastal Park.”

Biota nodes are small, natural ponds surrounded by native plants and animals,” she explains.

The Pegasus Bay School Science Academy students have been studying native freshwater mudfish.

“Mudfish are at risk of becoming endangered if we aren’t proactive about protecting this species,” Aaliyah says.

She has submitted a proposal for the Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Bruce Banks Environmental Education Award which was established last year by the Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust, administrators of the park, to promote native biodiversity.

“If I am lucky enough to win, I will spend the money on creating more safe habitats for mudfish,” she says. Applicants for the award must show how they intend to further native biodiversity in the Waimakariri District, Greg says.

A visit to the coastal park by the prime minister would provide a huge boost to its environmental restoration programmes.

Although Aaliyah understands that Ms Ardern is busy, she is hoping she might find time soon to visit.

“I know you are very busy now that you are prime minister,” she writes, “but if you were to come and visit us I could promise you a beautiful day at the beach, forest and lake in Pegasus.

“I really hope you can come.”