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Environmental education

Te aki i te hunga tangata te tiaki inanga... Whitebait Connection provides an inquiry and action based environmental education programme for schools and communities focusing on the health of our streams, rivers and wetlands

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Action outcomes

Participants are inspired to take action for their local catchment including riparian restoration, fencing, stream monitoring, writing letters to government and stream/river clean ups.

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Community engagement

Since 2002, we have been raising awareness of the effects of land-use on the health of our streams, rivers, estuaries and the sea, using whitebait as a medium.

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Conservation Action

As well as supporting communities to take action for freshwater, we sometimes help to lead this action in the form of water quality monitoring, whitebait spawning habitat surveys, habitat enhancement or creation, riparian planting, fencing and pest control, fish passage barrier identification, and stormwater litter monitoring.

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Hora Hora School WBC 2014

IMG 0594Two classes of Year 5/6 students took part in the WBC programme with coordinator Kim Jones in Term one, 2014.

At the start of the programme the students had a varied range of awareness but none had done WBC and many had no idea what lived in local waterways (as shown by the initial brainstorming) or how to tell if a stream was healthy or what they could do to help local waterways and whitebait. There was very limited initial knowledge about whitebait so this was a great topic to extend learning from.

The Raumanga sub-catchment has a wide and varied range of landuses including farming, forestry, residential and urban. The waterway itself is fairly impacted by pest weeds, runoff, barriers to fish migration. However the quality of the water itself is fairly good. The NIWA sedimentation report shows that a significant amount of sediment that is in the top layer of sediment currently in our harbour comes from the Raumanga catchment. The school runs right beside the stream so it was a great place to study for the kids.

IMG 0594Our objectives were to:
- create awareness in the students and their community about freshwater biodiversity,
- values of freshwater,
- interdependence,
- local threats to freshwater and
- kaitiakitanga

We collected evidence of prior learning and baseline knowledge then built from there letting the students be part of the planning and inquiry. We visited the Raumanga Stream to be inspired to take action for the local freshwater environment.

Learning outcomes:

- All students learnt more than what they started knowing about whitebait and freshwater.

- Students learnt lots about whitebait including their biology, ecology, threats (like hanging culverts) and their values.

- Students learn how to apply their learning in an action context – kaitiakitanga.

- Students learnt about the importance of plants beside waterways and the impact of pest weeds in the stream.

IMG 0182Action outcomes:

- Have written to the newspaper
- Have applied for and won free native plants from Alter-Natives for planting beside the stream.
- We have written letters to the project manager (Mr Thompson) of the development happening at our school asking him to make rain gardens to filter the sediment runoff from the building site.
- We have written a letter to Matua Buck asking to borrow seeds, nursery space and resources and advice.
- We have written letters to parents – thank you cards.
- We have written letters to WDC and NRC to ask permission to plant trees next to the stream.
- We have collected seeds to grow to plant next to the stream.

Quotable quotes:

When asked if their attitude towards the need to care for whitebait and their local fresh waterways had improved…
- I went from “Nah I don’t wanna do it” to “Yeah it’s awesome”
- I went from “this is so boring” to “I want to learn more about this it’s cool”.
- Yes cos we want to fix the river
- Cos I didn’t know how much the Raumanga stream was polluted and I didn’t care

Teacher comments:
- The posters, powerpoints, stream study, testing equipment and people were top notch.
- The children have been energized and feel powerful enough to change their world.
- Many parents have been involved and they seem to be voluntarily removing rubbish with their kids out of school time.
- Doing the WBC programme with the students has helped to cement my own thoughts and helped me with action plans.