Date: 07 November 2013
Fifty-five Years 8 and 9 Kerikeri High School students, aged 11 to 14, took part recently in the Bay of Islands' first floating conservation classroom. ExploreNZ provided the vessel; Department of Conservation (DOC), the speaker and activities.
The students were chosen from those who had represented Kerikeri High School in the 2013 Top Energy Far North Regional Science and Technology Fair and produced outstanding science fair projects.
The inaugural 5-hour trip left from and returned to Dove's Bay, Kerikeri. Various iconic sites around the Bay of Islands were visited: the Black Rocks, Motuarohia, Moturua, and Urupukapuka Islands finishing with a stop at Marsden Cross in Rangihoua Bay.
Kerikeri High School students displaying their pledge board at the end of the first Bay of Islands' Floating Conservation Classroom trip
Helen Ough Dealy, Partnerships Ranger (DOC) says "The trip wasn't simply a reward for the students who had taken part in the 2013 Science Fair; it had a very real educational component. The kids took part in a thorough biosecurity check of their gear on the mainland at the Dove's Bay Marina - a practical way of helping keep the pest-free islands of Project Island Song rodent and Argentine ant-free. The impacts of eco-tourism, issues associated with dolphin watching and ways the public can help protect archaeological sites were some of the other topics covered."
Dave Rivington, Operations Manager for ExploreNZ said "This is the first step. We hope to expand this joint DOC and ExploreNZ initiative in the future to get more Northland kids out experiencing the Bay for themselves."
Fleur Corbett, Chair of the Guardians of the Bay of Islands (who coordinate Project Island Song in partnership with hapu from Te Rawhiti and DOC) said "It's fantastic to see such exciting new initiatives that involve young people – the conservationists of the future. Working with ExploreNZ is a great example of the contribution business and conservation can make together, especially when it involves the education sector."
Accompanying the students was Jess Gibbs (Kerikeri High School science teacher). "This trip was a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain a personal understanding of the conservation work that is carried out in the Bay of Islands and why it is so important. Meeting Helen and talking with her gave students a real insight into the work of DOC and possible future career paths available to them. We would be very keen to continue working with ExploreNZ and DOC to give our students such memorable experiences."
Helen Ough Dealy says "It was wonderful for DOC to work with local kids on conservation projects right in their backyard. Many of these students had never been out on the water before. The main aim was to make conservation real for them and encourage them to see they can make a difference by getting involved themselves."
Some of the conservation pledges made by the students included:
- "Just before going camping I will check my bags and tents for pests as the gear is in a place with pests."
- "When I get home I will get rid of invasive plants in my garden."
The floating classroom idea originated in the ExploreNZ-sponsored combined Bay of Islands schools planting trip to Urupukapuka Island during winter 2013.
Project Island Song is the successful restoration project based on the islands of the eastern Bay of Islands. The islands have been pest-free since December 2009.
The public can help keep the islands pest-free by stopping (before leaving the mainland), checking (for stowaways) and then going (and having fun!)