New Zealanders are living increasingly sedentary lives and spending more time in front of screens – so our future generations’ connection to nature is under threat.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Toyota New Zealand are working together to help turn that around and inspire Kiwi kids to become guardians of the land and sea.
Toyota Kiwi Guardians is an activity programme that helps kids connect with nature by encouraging them to go on epic self-guided adventures and earn rewards.
Abi Wightman, a Community Ranger for DOC’s Manawatu District, says the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme is good for families and for nature.
“While kids are outside enjoying fresh air, having fun and creating memories; they’re also building good conservation habits.”
Toyota Kiwi Guardians makes it cheap and easy for parents who don’t know where to start when it comes to connecting their tamariki with nature.
“This summer, we’re making it even easier in the Manawatu with a couple of local Toyota Kiwi Guardian events on offer,” says Abi.
- Meet a DOC Ranger at the Manawatu Estuary on Friday 19 January, between 12 – 3 pm. Ranger Abi will be on-site to talk about the two Horowhenua coastal Kiwi Guardian sites, hand out maps and medals, and answer questions.
- Join Toyota New Zealand and DOC staff at Victoria Esplanade (Palmerston North) on Saturday 17 February from 10 am – 12 pm for a Toyota Kiwi Guardians treasure hunt.
“If you can’t make it to either of these events, it is easy to download an adventure map and explore one of our special places, or complete an action in your own backyard,” says Abi.
Toyota Kiwi Guardians showcases local spaces and places, and reminds us we’re lucky we don’t have to go far to wiggle our bare toes in the grass or hear a native birdcall.
Check out #kiwiguardians for inspiration.
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- In November 2015 Toyota New Zealand and DOC announced a 5-year partnership to work together on a national conservation programme that helps families and Kiwi kids explore New Zealand’s outdoors and take action for the benefit of conservation.
- DOC has a team of credible conservation education professionals who understand the importance of engaging children in nature early on and the positive impact this has on learning, confidence and on physical and mental health.
- Toyota New Zealand recognises the value of protecting the natural environment and is supporting DOC with commercial know-how and influence across NZ communities.
- The programme focuses on large urban centres.
How the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme works
There are three options:
- Adventures: go on epic self-guided adventures at local parks or reserves and track down a Guardians Post to locate a secret code word. Each site has its own adventure map to guide your journey
- Actions: complete tasks in your own backyard, eg: build a wētā motel or track your cat
- Exploring certain events, like Seaweek or Conservation Week.
When kids have completed a task, they can visit Kiwi Guardians and claim a medal online, which will be posted at no cost.
There’s a list of actions to do and a map of adventure sites.