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Protect what we have!

Protect what we have!

Local EMR and WBC Programmes provides students’ knowledge and motivates positive actions!

The Friends of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Trust are the regional provider for The Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust in the Hauraki/Coromandel region and are extremely pleased to be able to provide the funding needed to deliver the Trust’s Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) and Whitebait Connection (WBC) programmes to local area schools.

The Trust was established in 2010 primarily to raise funds to develop the educational potential of the marine reserve at Hahei (Cathedral Cove) Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. The Trust receives funds through grants and donations.

Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) is a national programme of experiential learning about marine conservation. The focus of the EMR programme is to provide quality education opportunities, increasing awareness, and encouraging action and support for marine conservation in New Zealand.

Our coordinator, local resident, Amber Boyd provides guidance, direction and coordination of classroom exercises and field trips to Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. The concept of EMR is to engage schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean. The Trust provides warm wet suits, masks, snorkels and fins for all the children and adults thanks to funding from Pub Charity.

As part of the experience, students are encouraged to snorkel outside the marine reserve investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. They can see for themselves the true benefits of no-take protected marine reserves such as Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve.

The students always have amazing comments and are thrilled seeing kina, snapper, eagle ray, but we think the best was Diego who said "It was good seeing the fish in the natural environment, and not just on my plate".

After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community. The action component of the EMR programme is an essential factor in the students learning process and one which helps us to assess the effectiveness of the programme at meeting the projected learning and conservation outcomes. Students need to be able to decide on, plan and take effective action on marine environment sustainability issues that concern and motivate them. The action is aimed at addressing a relevant marine issue.

By encouraging students to undertake action that is based on their own experience, EMR aims to empower students and encourage support for marine conservation.

As part of the EMR Programme students can participate in Poor Knights Competition Trip. This annual competition trip is organised by The Mountains To Sea Conservation Trust and comprises of representative students from around New Zealand who are selected based on their action projects and enthusiasm shown when studying and experiencing the marine environment. The standard of winning actions that go beyond the school environment is superb. Students are involved in a variety of projects such as designing new marine reserve proposals, presentations about dredging to local councils, designing drain filters with a council, presentations to community groups and community information evenings. The trip is not only a special opportunity for the students, but for their parents/guardians, as they share the opportunity to experience the magical Poor Knights area. Samara Nicholas – EMR Programme director- Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust: “Every year I am blown away by the students, the calibre of their action projects and their passion for the marine environment. I can feel satisfied that the future is in great hands”.

The Whitebait Connection (WBC) fresh water education programme of experiential learning about freshwater conservation and catchment restoration.

The program consists of a power point presentation which teaches about freshwater systems, how to monitor freshwater, what rivers need to be “healthy” and also all about whitebait. The best part of the program is getting the children out to the rivers to test the water health. The “bug hunting” being the favourite part of this for many children.

Students of all ages (early childhood to high school), teachers, parents and the wider community will benefit from this programme. It utilises an inquiry framework of learning enabling students to focus on a variety of fresh water topics best suited to their community. Like EMR students will formulate an action plan that does something for the freshwater environment in their community based on the knowledge they have gained during the programme. Our delivery Coordinator, 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 how/what we can do to improve our waterways.’ Other outcomes include the planting of native seedlings along waterways, removal of pest plants and rubbish from riparian areas.

If you would like more information or to register your school’s interest EMR and WBC contact Hauraki/Coromandel Regional Coordinator - Amber Boyd or

These programmes are available to any school in the Hauraki/Coromandel area at little cost thanks to sponsorship and support from a wide range of stakeholders and organisations. We are always looking for corporate sponsors to help with the funding of our programmes. Contact Secretary – Barbara Ritchie –

Help us to support educating our tamariki in conservation, sustainability and becoming kaitiaki of our oceans and Marine Reserves. Scan the QR Code to make a donation to help fund the educational potential of the reserve through the EMR Programme to area schools. We can all do our part and give back to our land and sea. Thank you for your kind support!

The Friends of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Trust is a Charitable Trust.

Photo left: Students enjoy exploring Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve at Hahei. Photo right: Amber Boyd with students in the EMR programme.


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