A ground-breaking new youth leadership programme is bringing our national icon – the kiwi – up close and personal to 19 senior South Island secondary school students.
The year 11, 12 and 13 students will take part in ‘Kiwi Forever’, a week-long conservation programme based at Ōkārito, just north of Franz Josef on the West Coast.
Members of the DOC Franz Josef rowi and community relations teams will be involved in the programme, working closely to teach the students the techniques they use to save the critically endangered rowi kiwi species.
When I talked to Ieuan Davies, field ranger in the rowi team he outlined that students would certainly be put through their paces on the muddy tracks of Ōkārito kiwi zone, learning the navigation and tracking skills that rangers use.
Iuean also said he was looking forward to listening to the opinions and ideas brought forward by the students throughout the week.
“These are young people who have interesting and fresh ideas about the relationships between humans and our planet. Even though we are focussed on rowi in our project, we are well aware that they are part of a much bigger picture.”
During the week, it will be the students not the teachers who will come up with the answers. They’ll also discover just how big the threats, such as stoat predation and habitat loss, are for native species and explore ways in which we can fight back to protect them.
The intellectual challenge will include exploring how human behavior impacts on the Ōkārito ecosystems and also how the iconic ‘kiwi’ brand has been used to describe us as a nation.
The programme – a partnership between Untouched World Charitable Trust , Ngāi Tahu, BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust and DOC – recognises the urgent need to impart knowledge about saving our natural heritage to today’s youth if the bird is to be part of the nation’s future.
To find out more about the Rowi Project and read regular updates from the rangers visit www.savethekiwi.org.nz.