With homemade catapults lined up and clay balls ready to fire, you'd be forgiven for thinking a battle was about to go down at Wakauni Beach today, but for those gathered at the beach, the task at hand had a much more environmental (and peaceful) purpose.
Wakanui School students joined members from the Ashburton Biodiversity Working Group and Council for a very non-traditional method of pest management.
'Seed bombs' containing native plant seeds, fertiliser, clay and soil were fixed one-by-one into the catapults and launched at an area of gorse - an invasive introduced plant species.
Val Clemens, a member of the Biodiverity Working Group, said the intent of the exercise was that as the native plants grow and overshadow the layer of gorse, the weed will begin to die; "Shelter kills the gorse off."
Wakanui School students from years four, five and six helped Val to create the seed bombs and designed and built their own catapults to shoot the balls into the gorse near the lagoon.
"The native seeds have all been collected from down here in summer. It's great to see that many of the kids who were involved in earlier plantings we've done are still here and can feel like it's their place," she added.
Today's exercise is part of ongoing efforts to restore Wakanui Beach with native plants, which in turn help to attract native animals and other species.
Wakanui Beach has significant importance for biodiversity in the Ashburton District. It is home to a number of rare native plant species. Several rare species of butterfly also rely on the native vegetation at the beach for survival.