Local waterway providing learning opportunities

Nature-based learning at two Canterbury schools is supporting the enhancement and restoration of Lyell Creek/Waikōau in Kaikōura.

Kaikōura Primary School and Loburn School - Te Kura Aromauka both reached out to staff in Kaikōura to see how they could help with local environmental work.

Giant bully found during the fish survey.

Giant bully found during the fish survey

Our biodiversity advisor Heath Melville says he’s particularly excited to see schools treating the environment as an extension of the classroom.

“Together with the students we’ve undertaken habitat enhancement in the lower Lyell Waikōau near the mouth of the stream and upstream at the Kaikōura District Council wildlife refuge,” he says.

In recent visits students have carried out planting days and fish surveys. Three fish traps were set along the lower Lyell area, catching two giant bullies in each trap. The trapping activities help us understand the species that are present in the stream – fish are released back into the stream immediately after being recorded.

"Both schools are interested in restoration actions around the Waikōau. Kaikōura Primary are particularly interested in the resident tuna. So much so that they've made a movie on the lifecycle of the tuna, complete with a tuna sock puppet!" Heath says. 

Kaikōura Primary School’s Totara (Year 5/6) and Rimu (Year 4) classes initially worked with our youth engagement and education advisor Matt Stanford during an immersion day which involved a range of activities to spark the imagination of the tamariki.

Kaikōura Primary students at the Waikōau.

Kaikōura Primary students at the Waikōau

Kaikōura Primary School Deputy Principal, Nick Plant said offering tamariki a localised curriculum is the aspiration of most primary schools.

“By working with Environment Canterbury, we were able to use the Waikōau as a learning space to engage learners – it’s been fantastic to be at a river while learning its biodiversity values and habitat.

“Not only did it give an excellent context for our project on freshwater, it also sparked an inquiry into habitats.

“These activities are important for young learners and help develop a sense of stewardship towards the Waikōau for tamariki.

“This sort of connection to the local environment has far-reaching benefits, not limited to the Waikōau but hopefully our wider community,” Nick says.

Mahi working towards wider catchment goals

The students’ work is part of a lower Lyell Waikōau Connection plan, which aims to enhance the mouth of the stream to encourage community connection and enhance mahinga kai, biodiversity, and cultural values. 

“There was some lupin control in South Bay earlier in the year by Hinds School and Sports Tasman have been working with Te Ha o Matauranga – Learning in Kaikōura and the Banded Dotterel Study Kaikōura to keep the shorebird habitat open,” Heath said.

“Kaikōura's diverse landscapes offer endless learning opportunities, with many freshwater and coastal environments within walking distance from local schools, with scope to become ongoing school projects.

“We’re always keen to work with schools or other education-based organisations in Kaikōura, so I welcome anyone interested to get in touch with me,” he said.

Images courtesy of Heath Melville.

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