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.

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