Kiwi Trust education programme to expand

Whakatane Kiwi Trust’s unique classroom and outdoor education programme will reach more school children than ever before, thanks partly to a $17, 500 grant from BayTrust.

The community-led charity has already taught more than 1000 school children about kiwi, their habitat and the importance of looking after the bird’s natural environment.

One classroom lesson is run each week on average, and is followed up by a ‘kiwi tracker walk’ in Ohope where kids can experience the bush first-hand, see dead pests caught in traps, visit burrows and touch kiwi egg shells and feathers.

The education programme will expand in 2019 and a full time educator employed after BayTrust approved a grant just before Christmas. Further funds are also being sought from other community funding agencies.

“The Kiwi Trust really appreciate the support of BayTrust to run this initiative,” Whakatane Kiwi Trust chairman John Pullar said.

“Our new program will have a much bigger scope and reach a much bigger audience. There’s a lot of schools in the Whakatane district, including Murupara, that we would love to include in the programme. And if schools from outside the area want to come and visit us well, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Mr Pullar said education is the key to New Zealand achieving its goal of becoming predator-free by 2050.

“Educating kids is a big part of passing on the message of how important it is to look after our environment because it’s a cyclic thing. When you remove pests such as stoats, rats and possums, the bush and insects thrive, and then birds thrive too. Our feeling is that when children grasp the key messages, they will then educate their parents.”

Sam Gardner