With school starting back this week, Kiwi Coast is also getting ready to head back to the classroom, with the Te Waka Kaitiaki program.
This in-school education program began in 2019, with Mid North Kiwi Coast Coordinator Andrew Mentor visiting kindergartens, kura, and marae across Northland. Designed by Andrew and Stella Schmid, the program was delivered to 22 kindergartens, schools and marae across Te Tai Tokerau in 2019 alone.
Initially, the program focused on teaching tamariki about kiwi awareness and what kiwi need to survive and thrive. However, as demand for the program grew, it was identified that a more wider approach would be beneficial to help deliver the action focused conservation based curriculum.
Andrew said “Though the program began with raising awareness of kiwi, many of the issues that kiwi face intersect with other issues such as pest control, habitat loss, kauri dieback, and the importance of kaitiakitanga to our ngahere and manu.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic brought a few stops and starts, different educational methods were quickly created to keep the program going. Kiwi Coast created downloadable environmental education resources and efforts were made to connect schools with local community groups, and prepare online zoom sessions for schools when requested.
Thanks to support from the Northland Regional Council and a community grant from the Department of Conservation, Te Waka Kaitiaki has been able to expand to provide traps to tamariki who are starting their pest control and kiwi protection journey.
Andrew says “We have had a lot of interest from different kaiako across the Mid and Far North, and we look forward to getting back into schools this year, to continue this mahi.”