By Sarah Ensor, Partnerships Ranger in Christchurch | Kaitiaki Manutataki
At the Ministry for the Environment's Green Ribbon Awards in June 2014, the Nina Valley Ecoblitz won both the 'Supreme winner' and the 'Communication and education' awards.
Congratulations to everyone involved, what an incredible achievement!
The first ever Nina Valley Ecoblitz took place in March, organised by a group of people from Hurunui College, Lincoln University, DOC, Hurunui District Council and specialist volunteers.
Most of the team on the last day
The organisers were stoked to see the turnout: 176 senior students from 23 secondary schools, along with 57 scientists/taxonomists, 24 university students, 26 teachers and 16 helpers.
Taking place over a weekend, everyone set up tents by the Boyle River or bunked down at nearby lodges.
All the students (and some adults not keen on bunkrooms) stayed in tents.
The weekend offered 119 field activities and workshops, each lead by an expert scientist. Participants worked side-by-side to discover and document native species of Nina Valley.
The term "Ecoblitz" was coined to reflect the detailed research into the ecology of the forest, shrub, grasslands and waterways around the Boyle River and Nina Valley.
Groups of up to 10 students worked side-by-side to discover and document native species of Nina Valley
Lincoln University is currently collating all the data and researching an unidentified sample that may even be a new species!
After such a successful weekend, the group have decided that they'll definitely be repeating the event. Targeting students from years 11, 12 and 13, and aiming to run it every three years means they're sure to capture all the budding local scientists out there.