Date: 01 June 2012
The children of Ngunguru Primary School got a surprise during their Friday assembly on 4 May 2012. Two Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers visited the school to present to the children a brand new, colourful mural highlighting some of the important bird species that can be found in the area.
Work began on the mural back in December last year when it featured as one of the attractions during the Matapouri Community Enviro Expo held at the Matapouri Hall. DOC had organised the event to pass on conservation information and resources to the community. Children who attended the event helped paint a mural that would later be gifted to Ngunguru School.
Children from Ngunguru School in front of their new mural
The mural created shows many important feathery locals such as kiwi, white-fronted terns, tui and a host of other flying, resting and feeding birds in the coastal scene. Behind a tree, nestled amongst some flax, you can also see two brown teal/pāteke. DOC pāteke ranger Tiff Browne was keen to have pāteke featured in the mural, as they are an important species for the area.
Once widespread throughout the country, this small New Zealand duck is now our rarest waterfowl species on the mainland. Tiff Browne states “numbers in the wild are believed to be between 2000 and 2500, with only two remnant wild populations left in New Zealand. Northland’s east coast is one of these areas making the population here very important”. Pāteke are vulnerable to introduced predators, habitat loss, and being hit by cars. One of the easiest ways people can help pāteke is simply by taking care when they drive in areas where they see a pāteke sign.
The school children at Ngunguru have come into close contact with pāteke before. Private breeders around the country donate their time and energy to breeding these small ducks, which are then released into safe habitats in the wild. When Tutukaka Landcare Coalition released 64 pāteke onto private land last year, Ngunguru School was there to help the birds on their way.
Last year the school was also involved in monitoring and caring for New Zealand dotterels that were breeding and roosting along the Ngunguru coastline. Rick Sayer, principal at Ngunguru School, states that ”Our school brands itself with a strong environmental conscience and the students are incredibly fortunate to be able to engage so actively with their unique coastal setting and the opportunities it provides. The mural will help provide a great visual prompt for them to continue strengthening positive attitudes to our birdlife conservation.”
Ngunguru School will be displaying its new mural outside so that it can be enjoyed by all who visit the school.