Far North youth get island experience
Twenty nine students from 22 schools in eight regions around New Zealand explored the wonders of the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, a protected area off the east coast of Northland.
The reserve, established in 1981 and covering an area of 2400 hectares, is administered by the Department of Conservation.
The students were the winners of the 16th annual Experiencing Marine Reserves Poor Knights competition which took place on May 26.
The competition trip is sponsored by Dive! Tutukaka and the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation.
Students were selected based on projects undertaken about marine environments.
The EMR programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and the local marine environment before experiencing a marine reserve. Students are then able to make the comparison between the protected and unprotected areas.
They are then encouraged to put their knowledge on marine conservation into action in their communities. This action component is essential to assessing the effectiveness of the programme.
‘‘I’m so impressed with the amazing action projects and passion these students have to protect the marine environment for future generations, says programme director Samara Nicholas.
‘‘Students were involved in a variety of projects that address local marine issues such as campaigning the council to change from plastic coated to paper parking tickets, storm water projects, and writing letters to members of parliament.’’
Parent helper Karen Mclean says, ‘‘This amazing trip has created many kaitiaki tangaroa for the future. I know they will feel empowered to support marine conservation.’’
They snorkelled at the stunning ‘Garden’s at Maroro Bay, part of the Poor Knights Islands that have been protected by notake status since 1981.
Group photographs were taken inside New Zealand’s largest sea cave, Rikoriko cave, with a floor depth of 26 metres below water level it is130 metres long and 26 metres wide.
There is plant life in this cave that is different from any where else and cup coral that usually only grows at depths of 200 metres is tricked into growing by the light.
Alex Edwards, Queenie Paterson, Nevaeh Smith, Sam Beeching, Peter Beeching and Lucas Thomas.