Pupils rap to save whitebait
Endangered whitebait species are finding support from an unlikely source – a primary school rap music video.
The video is a spin-off from a study project and school production year 5 and year 6 pupils at Palmerston North’s Russell Street School were involved in last term.
‘‘We want to send a message about whitebait – that by 2050 there could be no whitebait left,’’ pupil Joe Steveson, 10, said.
That means no more braided kokopu, giant kokopu, shortjaw, koaro or inanga, the basic ingredients of whitebait fritters.
The children’s study had become a hands-on multidisciplinary project.
As well as song-writing and video production, it involved animation, art, design and cooking.
For their live costumed school production Te Ahu a Tu¯ ranga in the Regent on Broadway, the pupils used music programme Garageband to write and record a series of raps, one for each of the five species of whitebait, and another for their predators.
Te Ahu a Tu¯ ranga is the rock sacred to Ma¯ ori in the middle of Te A¯ piti, the Manawatu¯ Gorge.
Predators included humans both as whitebaiters, and for their role in degrading river environments now contributing to the demise of the native fish. ‘‘Our teacher Nic [Mason] helped us put it all together,’’ Joe said.
Released on Soundcloud and on Facebook as the Galixiidae Rap after the whitebait genus by the class calling themselves 7ator’s Got Talent, the next step in getting the message out was to make a music video for the four-minute track.
Directed by year 6 pupil Alex Christensen, 11, the production team had prepared a 56-panel storyboard.
For one of the scenes, they converted a school sandpit into a model of the Manawatu¯ River to film a flash flood, and for another to show ‘‘how cow poos and wees get into the river,’’ Fergus Bang, 11, said.
Along with Joe, Fergus was responsible for media and publicity.
‘‘The quality of the Manawatu¯ River affects everything,’’ Fergus said.
Filmed at various locations around the school and using classmates as extras, the pupils want their video to champion the cause of whitebait as far and as wide as possible.
‘‘There are some amazing facts about adult whitebait,’’ Fergus said.
‘‘They can climb ropes and walls, anything that is wet.’’
The production team was hoping to have the video completed in time for class barbecue day in about five weeks’ time.
From left, Camden Woodroofe, 11, Lachie Dale, 10, Alex Christensen, 11, Telaina Fa’aea, 11, Fergus Bang, 11 and Joe Steveson, 10, on set.