Young­sters learn sus­tain­able tourism

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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

PIC­TURE / SUPPLIED

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.

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