Living on an island, and with Auckland surrounded by ocean, ensuring our youth are educated and involved in the marine environment is essential.
“Our Marine environment is incredibly important for our communities today and into the future, so it was easy for the local board to approve the funding application from Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust for this project” explains Chris Makoare, Chair of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board.
The Experiencing Marine Reserves Programme run at Tāmaki College involved teaching 48 rangatahi and covered marine biodiversity, ecology, and even how to snorkel - which allowed them to see for themselves and understand the taonga that the New Zealand marine environment is.
“After a study of a local marine or beach environment we take the rangatahi up to New Zealand’s first marine reserve, Goat Island. For many, it is their first opportunity to see fish underwater,” says programme coordinator Lorna Doogan.
Teacher Jay Malhotra adds that “students experiencing first-hand the difference between Pt England waterfront and Goat Island Marine Reserve has been invaluable to their sense of connection to the project and the marine environment.”
As part of the programme, students are required to create action projects, which see their learnings reach beyond the classroom by education the wider community. Some students wrote to Auckland Council representatives regarding their concerns about water quality at local beaches, others presented to fellow students and another group created coded Switch games involving a hungry snapper that eats kina to stop the spread of kina barrens.
“It’s good to see students excited and informed as well as being offered the opportunity to experience the ocean as they may never have had the opportunity to otherwise.
"Many of us take the accessibility to our coastlines for granted, but for some it’s a big opportunity to learn about what is under and in the water. Let’s hope projects such as this help create environmental ambassadors which continue to spread their knowledge and empathy towards our oceans,” says Makoare.
For more information on Te Kura Moana – Experiencing Marine Reserves visit emr.org.nz
For more information on local board grant opportunities visit the Auckland Council website.