By Anita Anderson, Outreach and Education Programme Developer, DOC.
Two nine year olds and a ten year old have just screamed down the hill at me – excited to be the first to find the Kiwi Guardians marker post at Maugnauika/North Head. It’s grey, it’s raining but these kids don’t care. They are excited to be outside, exploring and taking part in the launch of the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme.
Children from three schools joined the Minister of Conservation, local iwi, DOC and Toyota New Zealand on Friday 11 March to officially launch the programme designed to get kids out into nature. We had a mix of children from South Auckland, and those that live nearby and regard North Head as their maunga. After a rousing round of Tūtira mai ngā iwi, a few speeches and some delicious kai they were fuelled up and ready to go outside and explore.
The highlight of the day was definitely the tunnels, and there were plenty of scares, screams and laughter. Piri, one of the DOC conservation dogs based at Maungauika/North Head, was also huge hit. Quite a few of the children knew who Piri was, and were excited by the chance to get up close and personal with him. He even got a personal mention from the Minister of Conservation who acknowledged the important role that he has in keeping the gulf islands pest free.
After the kids had explored the area using their adventure maps, they applied for the first-ever kiwi guardians medals online. We asked what they enjoyed the most:
“Going through the spooky tunnels and scaring people.”
“The tunnels and the big hills and slipping over.”
“The buffet, exploring north head with friends and screaming a lot. Jumping off the roof.”
“I loved exploring all the caves and the mountain and learning about how we can get birds and insects to our school gardens.”
“The tunnels, the big green cannon and the adventure!!!!”
“Being one of the first kids in NZ to become a kiwi guardian!”
A huge range of people all pulled together to make the launch event happen. We’d like to thank everyone involved for helping us to plan and run the day!
Toyota Kiwi Guardians was launched on 11 March 2016. The programme is about getting kids aged 6-10 into the outdoors with their families, where they can learn about nature, grow their confidence and work towards a Kiwi Guardians medal. The programme rewards kiwi kids for completing at home activities or for visiting a Kiwi Guardians destination. Right now there are 20 sites across Auckland, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin, and new sites will be added throughout the year.