Youngsters learn sustainable tourism
More than 120 students, teachers, family and community members have experienced some of the best environmentally sustainable tourism attractions the Bay of Islands and Whanga¯rei have to offer as part of this year’s Enviroschools regional expos.
The first of the two Enviroschools Ecotourism Expos for Years 5 to 8 students was held in Whanga¯rei on 7 November, followed a week later with a Bay of Islands-based event.
Northland Regional Council (NRC) introduced the Enviroschools programme to Northland more than a decade ago and more than 90 schools and kindergartens are in the programme region-wide. Enviroschools expos have been held yearly in the region for more than a decade with hands-on learning experiences.
Regional councillor Paul Dimery, who opened the Whanga¯rei expo, says it was great to see a younger generation experiencing ecotourism activities that could be replicated in their local areas.
“I think Expo participants also learned a valuable first-hand lesson that there’s nothing wrong with making money. The important thing is to make sure you try to do it in the most environmentally sustainable manner you can.”
Councillor Dimery says the 65 students and 12 teachers/wha¯nau helpers taking part in the expo came from eight schools — Hikurangi, Hora Hora, Maromaku, Maungakaramea, Parua Bay, Tinopai, Whanga¯rei Primary and Whau Valley.
They tried their hands at a variety of ecotourism activities including cycling part of the city’s Hatea Loop Walkway and scootering tracks on land formally used for marginal farming at Whanga¯rei Heads. They also explored the Abbey Caves and visited the Whanga¯rei Quarry Gardens to see how a pile of ruins was turned into a tourist attraction.
Further north, 39 students and nine teachers/wha¯nau helpers took part from five schools: Bay of Islands Academy, Kaikohe West, Karetu, Kokopu and O¯ ruaiti.
They took a cultural tour with strong te ao Ma¯ ori focus through the O¯ pua State Forest, biked in the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, played traditional nga¯ takaro (games) at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and tried their hand at kayaking at Waitangi.
Councillor Dimery says while each of the businesses showcased offered a different experience , all shared a common passion for operating sustainably which benefited both the environment and communities. The expos allowed participants to:
•See how they could connect with the environment in new and sustainable ways.
•Experience employment and social enterprise via real eco-tourism businesses that could be replicated in other areas and
•Experience taonga tuku iho / passing down knowledge.
“The events also enabled them to take part in memorable learning experiences through having fun and set the scene for them to take part in eco-tourism teaching and learning next year.”
Councillor Dimery says more information about the Enviroschools programme is available from the regional council’s website www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools
Oruaiti ¯ School student Cordell Grace about to take to the waters off Waitangi as part of a kayaking experience at this year’s Enviroschools Ecotourism Expo.