A week-long conservation journey learning about tikanga māori and how to strike the balance when making decisions about natural resources ends today for 18 secondary school students and six Waikato University student teachers.
Today also marks the last day of Whio Awareness Month.
The students from schools across the central North Island have been on a conservation leadership journey under the shadow of Mt Ruapehu, at Tirorangi Marae, Karioi.
The annual Kiwi Forever leadership week has students building traps, checking trap lines, learning about kiwi and whio recovery and tikanga māori with local iwi Ngāti Rangi and the Department of Conservation. The programme is supported by Genesis Energy.
Earlier this week the students journeyed to the whio hardening facility at Tongariro Trout Centre, and wild river whio habitat and took part in two whio releases at Tongariro River and Whakapapanui River.
“If we look after whio, they look after us” Malcolm Swanney, Tongariro biodiversity ranger says.
Malcolm explains whio are an indicator species for the environment, meaning if there is something wrong with the balance of nature, then you are unlikely to have whio on your river.
The students learned if whio are missing, from a fast-flowing river, the community groups, iwi and DOC can start the process of working out what is wrong with the river environment. Such as: checking water quality; invertebrates; and the pest populations stealing whio eggs.
“If these issues are targeted over time, hopefully the balance is restored and whio return or can be released into a river environment and survive and thrive,” he says.
The student leadership week is based at Ngāti Rangi marae, at the foot of the mountain, delivers a strong cultural focus while examining the sustainability challenges and provides an opportunity for students to experience learning conservation first hand.
This journey has been captured on film and is attached/ or click on the link below.
Genesis Energy and DOC have partnered together to secure the future of this unique vulnerable native bird. Operating under the name of Whio Forever this partnership is fast tracking implementation of the national Whio Recovery Plan to protect whio and increase public awareness.
The support of Genesis Energy is enabling DOC to double the number of fully secure whio breeding sites throughout the country, boost pest control efforts and enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.