It has been a busy season for the Whitebait Connection (WBC) Programme in our region for local Coordinator Amber Boyd. This is the fourth year the programme has been offered by provider organisation The Friends of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Trust.
With the challenges of Covid lifting a bit, we were able to deliver the programme and get involved in stream planting with students at Mercury Bay Area School, Puriri, Moanataiari, Hikuai, Opoutere and Tapu schools.
The Trust would like to thank Waikato Regional Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund for their funding of this programme. With this funding we can offer the programme at no cost to schools in our area. We would also like to thank Jeanne van Kuyk from Aroha Anglo Nubians for her generous gift of a Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit (SHMAK). It provides a way to assess whether land-use practices are affecting waters. It also allows stream health to be tracked over time, so you can recognise if stream health is getting better, worse, or staying the same.
Amber says, “What is important to me is educating children on the importance of healthy water for us and the earth by giving them the tools to be able to identify healthy water systems and also see what we can do to improve our waterways and how we can do it.”
Art work is also used to expand the children’s education. It helps when they can put on paper what they see and how it can be better. Students formulate an action plan that does something for the freshwater environment in their community, based on the knowledge they have gained during the programme. Teachers have information about how to continue monitoring water/stream health after the completion; thereby training the trainer to keep it going!
In conjunction with the WBC, Opoutere School has done a planting session with Trees for Survival, a local charitable trust that provide plants. They have planted 370 plants/trees along 130 metres of the stream. Hikuai School also has plans for planting in their area.
Mercury Bay Area School has a long-term project at the Whitianga Bike Park of trap lines. They are also helping with the planting and restoration of the streams that flow through the Bike Park. And continue to test the water and look at fish passage and inanga spawning sites, making this a project for the whole school over many many years to come.
Puriri School uses their river, the Awa, as another classroom. The students frequent the river many times during the year, using the knowledge they have gained to test and evaluate. Lots of life - mayflies, free swimming caddisfly, stick, stone cased caddisfly, toe bitter, eel, bullies, sandfly, snails, worms, dobsonfly, damselfly – all kinds of water creatures, were to be found! Puriri School is also keen to do riparian planting around their area.
Moanataiari school is working with a local Thames group to restore the stream/drain down by their school.
And, of course a major benefit of this work is that the rubbish is always picked up and removed from our testing sites!
“The Whitebait Connection (WBC) fresh water education programme was founded in 2002 under the charitable umbrella of the Northland based Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust. Students of all ages (early childhood to high school), teachers, parents and the wider community will benefit from this programme.
The WBC programme is available to any school in the Coromandel/Hauraki area thanks to funding provided by Waikato Regional Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund.
If you would like to register your schools interest contact Coromandel/Hauraki Regional
Coordinator - Amber Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit Amber Boyd