Aotearoa was once covered in native forest that provided a habitat for our special flora and fauna. Now, due to habitat loss and pest invasion, this habitat is under threat and needs our help. Aongatete is a precious lowland forest in a unique mountain and coastal landscape. Hosting a unique mix of plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates whose northern or southern limits meet here, it’s significant as almost all Kaimai forest of this type has been converted to farmland. Aongatete Forest Project have been protecting 500 hectares of native forest since 2006, using traps and bait stations to protect the rare plants and animals that live there. They are a completely volunteer operation.
Our in-class lessons with Bay Conservation on Friday 28 April included a 20 minute presentation to introduce conservation and the importance of looking after our forest (Ngāhere). We then moved around a rotation of three 15 minute activities. We covered the conservation status scale, our native kauri tree and ngā tamariki o Tāne (the children of Tane Mahuta). We will be following up our learning with a visit to Aongatete - a taonga, a treasure, right on our back door step. We have no doubt that our tamariki will be guardians, kaitiaki, for our environment into the future.
Wai is the lifeforce of all living beings. We are mostly made up of water and we are reliant on it to survive. Our freshwater has carved out our landscape. It is millions of years old and keeps recycling itself and being cleaned by natural processes. And yet, our freshwater is in serious trouble, impacting all the species that rely on it. We all need to look at how we use water wisely and treat it respectfully so it can remain clean and plentiful for generations to come.
On Friday 24th March, Rooms 1&4 Friday headed to our local waterway, Puketoki Reserve, to enjoy a day investigating the health of the water. The field trip allowed our learners the opportunity to observe the top of a pristine stream and look at the creatures that live in it.
Estuaries face many challenges, including sediment and marine pest animals. Fortunately, we can all help to solve these problems so we can continue to enjoy being in and around our estuaries.
Monday 5th December hosted an opportunity for Room 1 & 4 learners to head out to Huharua Park (Plummer’s Point) on a field trip to the estuary. Our learners were provided with a fantastic opportunity to learn about estuaries and the many ecosystem services they provide, explore the incredible creatures that live in the estuary and discover the issues estuaries are facing and how they can help.
Friday 9th September hosted an opportunity for Room 1 & 4 learners to head out to I’Anson Reserve (Te Puna) on a field trip to the wetlands. Through in-class learning, a field trip and a follow-up activity, our learners have been provided with a fantastic opportunity to learn about the wetlands. What a super day of learning (freshwater bug identification, pest plants and wetland health assessment). Our tamariki are so lucky to be involved in a hands-on experiential conservation education programme.
Our learners are kaitiaki (guardians) of our future. Our learners are being encouraged to protect and nurture our environment so that in turn our environment will protect and nurture us. Our younger learners in Rooms 2 & 3 have an exciting programme ahead of them as they move through the school.
Monday 20th June hosted an opportunity for our Room 1 & 4 learners to head out to Waihi Beach on a field trip in the dunes. Through in-class learning, a field trip and a follow-up activity, our learners have been provided with a fantastic opportunity to learn about the dunes: the incredible native plants that build up the sand, the reptiles, bugs and birds that call the dunes their home and discovery of what they can do to help protect and enhance our coastline.
Room 1 learners preparing chew cards and placing them out in the native bush areas that we have on our school grounds. Chew cards are a useful tool to quickly identify which introduced predators (e.g. rodents, possums, stoats, etc.) are on your property. We will be monitoring closely, before choosing the best place to set our traps.
Working with the weather wasn't quite in our favour on Thursday 24th March for our visit to Oteora; but despite the rain, and some changes to plans, we had an enjoyable day. All our learners walked away with some new learning. What an amazing treasure / taonga on our doorstep. The Oteora Trust was formed in 1977 when Margaret and Godfrey Mackersey gifted a block of native forest on their farm for Otumoetai College to hold their camps. 45 years later, the Trust is still going strong and the forest is now seeing regular pest control.
Our learners enjoyed a hike through the native bush and everyone experienced at least one activity while up at Oteora. After getting somewhat wet, some learners caught the bus back to school to get warm; while others continued some forest learning. Janie, our education and engagement manager, is keen to support setting up a future camp at Oteora for our learners.
Today Rooms 1 and 4 started their journey with ‘Bay Conservation Alliance’. This is a joint partnership to empower and enable our learners to restore nature. This term our learning is around the forest. Native forest in Aotearoa covers 50% of our land and is home to some of NZ’s most iconic and threatened species. We are privileged to live near the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, 37,000 hectares of native forest and Oteora in Whakamārama is at the foothills of this majestic range.
Today our learners were introduced to the forest ecosystem, the vital role it plays and the unique forest landscapes we have nearby us. Through a rotation of activities, there was a focus on pest animal control.
Next week we will be heading out on a field trip to Oteora for a full day's experience in the forest where we will focus on bird identification and calls, bird and invertebrate monitoring techniques, forest plants and fungi and forest invertebrates.
By working alongside Bay Conservation Alliance, our learners will discover how incredibly unique New Zealand is, gain an insight into many of the conservation challenges in New Zealand, and learn a set of practical conservation skills. We support the well-being of nature everywhere – our forests, streams, wetlands, harbours, estuaries and coastal areas as well as our own backyards.