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MAD about the environment

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Published: 27 January 2016

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Meet the MADsters from MAD Marine.

Forty-three young Aucklanders were selected from 27 high schools to attend the MAD (Make a Difference) Marine camp held at the Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre (MOEC) last week. 

The four-day camp shows young people the marine conservation issues facing the Hauraki Gulf, and students develop action plans to take back to their communities. 

MAD Marine is an Auckland Council initiative supported by MOEC and the Hauraki Gulf Forum.

Student leaders from the camp, dubbed 'MADsters', shared their journey with OurAuckland, showing how young people really can make a difference.

Q: What makes you passionate about marine life?

Lana: I grew up in the Cook Islands where you always see the sea, no matter where you stand.

Ishwanka: I'm here because I want to protect and restore something as beautiful as the ocean. We think we run the earth, but underneath the ocean there is a whole world we don't even know about.

Paice: People often say that environmentalists work not only for the love of animals, but for the love of humanity. I want to ensure that we have a sustainable planet that we can continue to use, which means thinking about ways to be sustainable in every aspect of life.

Q: What is the main challenge of marine conservation?

Grace: There is so much we don't know. The sea is a bit of an unknown area; it's harder to take data, it's harder to scientifically survey and, because of that, there is a lot less awareness about issues to do with it. That big blue blanket is out of sight and out of mind.

Eve: Definitely getting the future generations involved and making them care, because a lot them don't. 

Ishwanka: Ignorance. People see the problem, and hear the problem, but they still don't attach urgency to the problem. 

Q: What brought you to MAD Marine?

Paice: I was first introduced to MAD Marine by my head science teacher; he knew I liked getting outside and had a knack for public speaking. The leadership aspect of the programme is what appealed to me, and I've always enjoyed extra-curricular science activities.

Lana: It's where I find inspiration in life, and where I found myself connecting to nature. I'm interested in learning about the marine environment and curious about what is happening around us.

Eve: I wanted to be surrounded by people just as passionate as me with the same vision. MADsters are the kind of people who will encourage you when nobody else will.

Q: How does your age help you to make a difference in your community?

Grace: Ever since primary school I've been passionate – I grew up around and in the environment. I don't know any other way to be. We need water; we need the ocean to sustain our population. It's too important to neglect. 

Eve: People will definitely listen to a teenager in ripped jeans over an 80-year-old professor.

Lana: I feel it is not only my age but my background that makes me powerful. I come from the Cook Islands, so I see things in a different way. Over there, we don't need to worry about our environment too much because there are fewer people and cars. Auckland is really different!


For more information on Make a Difference programmes, including MAD Marine, check out the Auckland Council website.

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