Archives For School Children

Last month a group of school students were invited on a special trip to Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve.

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The Supporters of  wildlife sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi (SOTM), an island conservation have launched the Growing Minds programme, aimed at bringing more school children to Tiritiri Matangi Island for the day.

With help of the Auckland Business community, Growing Minds give children – particularly those from lower decile schools – the opportunity to experience a day out on Tiritiri Matangi and see how every person can make a difference to conservation.

Students investigating the rocky shore on Tiritiri Matangi.

Students investigating the rocky shore on Tiritiri Matangi

Running Events, an Auckland based event management company, has provided generous sponsorship for Growing Minds’ first year. Its 2013 events—the Westfield Albany Lakes Summer Series and Skechers Coatesville Classic—will be 100% non-profit and staff will work for six months for free to guarantee at least $25,000 for Growing Minds.

This will mean a day out on Tiritiri Matangi for at least 1,000 kids during the first year of the Growing Minds programme. Each child will travel free, receive a drink bottle to take home with them, and their school will be given a further $5 per child to go towards their lunch for the day. Ferry company 360 Discovery is also partnering with the programme, funding the accompanying teachers and adults at a ration of one free adult to six children.

Kids reading a sign board on Tiritiri Matangi.

Kids reading a sign board on Tiritiri Matangi

Greg the takahe gives ranger Jennifer Haslam a hand with the introductory talk on Tiritiri Matangi.

Greg the takahe gives ranger Jennifer Haslam a hand with the introductory talk on Tiritiri Matangi

Originally cleared for farming, the Tiritiri Matangi Scientific Reserve (Open Sanctuary) is now the site of one of the most successful conservation projects in the world. SOTM, a non-profit conservation volunteer group which formed in 1988, is a major contributor to the success of the island as an open sanctuary.

Since 1984 thousands of people have volunteered their labour or donated money to the project. Over 280,000 trees were planted by volunteers between 1984 and 1994. Most replanted areas are now well established and the island is home to many of our endangered birds including hihi, kokako, takahe and tieke. Volunteer work has shifted to tasks such as bird monitoring, translocations, guiding and inspiring the many visitors to the island, and working with schools through conservation education.

Kids fascinated by takahe up close.

Kids fascinated by a takahe

The Growing Minds programme is a great example of how a community group and local business are working in partnership to achieve more for conservation than DOC can do alone. For many of the children participating in the programme, it will be their first boat trip, let alone their first trip to a conservation island. Without the programme many children may never have the chance to see this inspiring “conservation in action”.

Red Beach Primary School students at the Tiritiri Matangi Visitors Centre.

Red Beach Primary School students at the Tiritiri Matangi Visitors Centre

For more information on the Growing Minds programme go to

For more information on Running Events’ run and walk events go to and

Going out to visit schools…

 —  16/10/2009

Next week I’ve been asked to visit two Masterton schools, St Patrick’s primary and Opaki, on Wednesday. 

My talk at St Pat’s is to 5-7 year olds about our precious things.  A few different “professionals” are going to be on-site and the children come around and talk to us about something that’s precious to us.  I’ve had a couple of ideas that I’d like to run past you as I love my job but I don’t really have much experience doing this:

  • Bring our summer placement trainee ranger Wiremu Grace as my precious thing.  I believe that the future of DOC and conservation lies with the good training of our new rangers and having people like Wiremu there is important and very precious.

    Hector's dolphin courtesty Engel and Maecker 2007

    Hector's dolphin courtesy Engel and Maecker 2007

  • Marine animals are very precious to me.  I’ve got some Marine Mammal posters and I can talk about seals, whales etc
  • Take a harakeke (flax) and talk about the benefits of native planting to NZ
  • Tuna (eel) – see my earlier blog entry 🙂
  • Or something else – any suggestions????

My second talk of the day is at Opaki which is just north of Masterton on State Highway One.  I’m standing up in front of 70 children to talk about Castlepoint and what an exciting piece of the conservation estate it is.  I’m going to run through dune plants and their importance and a few other things (yet to be determined).

It’s great to be able to get out and talk to school groups and its coincidence they’ve asked when I’ve got time in my diary.  The children love to see DOC staff in their uniforms and hear about our exciting jobs.  I’m looking forward to Wednesday – now I’ve just got to sort out what I’m going to say….

The striking Castlepoint Scenic Reserve

The striking Castlepoint Scenic Reserve