Environmental education opportunities explored

27 Mar 2015, 11:37 AM

Teachers from across the North are better equipped to contribute to the health of their harbours after a special Northland Regional Council workshop.

Teacher Workshop 2015Checking out wetas on Matakohe/Limestone Island at Northland Regional Council's 2015 Teacher Workshop are (from left) Maggie McClune (Otaika Valley School) Matakohe/Limestone Island ranger Bernie Buhler and Loren Hope (Ngunguru School).

Twenty-eight teachers from Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara schools gathered yesterday at Whangarei Harbour's Matakohe/Limestone for the council's annual day-long environmental education teacher workshop.

The workshop aimed to boost participants' abilities to get results from their environmental education and teachers from 17 schools spanning Matauri Bay to Maungaturoto attended, representing primary, area and secondary schools.

Teachers met at Onerahi, before heading to the nearby 37-hectare island, which has been the focus of a community-led environmental restoration project for the past 26 years.

Over that time several thousand people have helped restored the island habitat and today it is home to 200,000 community-planted native trees, 2500 skinks and lizards, 50 kiwi and 150 petrels reintroduced via a seabird restoration programme.

Council Chairman Bill Shepherd says Whangarei Harbour's Matakohe/Limestone Island was an important educational resource for all Northlanders.

"Matakohe/Limestone Island is a great example for all Northlanders to show what can be achieved with long term, sustained community efforts to restore their local harbour catchment."

Participating schools were based in six of those Northland harbour/coastal catchments; Bay of Islands, Hokianga, Kaipara, Matauri Bay and Whangarei.

The island visit was underpinned by an initial session at Onerahi Yacht Club exploring new teaching opportunities offered by Community Based Social Marketing – a process helping participants to more effectively achieve sustainable management action.

"It was an amazing day, great to learn about Community Based Social Marketing and Matakohe Island," says workshop teacher participant Dianne Henwood from Kaikohe West School.

Teachers who attended the workshop are expecting to work with more than 1750 students back at their schools to put what they've learned into action.