Bush tea, mangals, shore surveys, plants for bees and pests

1 Dec 2017

The coastal environment was the focus for this year’s annual WaiRestoration professional development day, recently enjoyed by keen teachers and school community members at Aroha Island near Kerikeri.

Studying mangals (mangrove forests), learning how to survey the local seashore, making native bush tea from leaves and flowers, finding out about bee plants and beekeeping, and tracking and trapping pests were among the day’s learning opportunities.

Enviroschools Regional Coordinator Susan Karels says participants could choose to attend four out of five practical workshops designed to stimulate, enthuse and provide a kickstart for school-based WaiRestoration projects next year.

“We wanted the schools to be inspired about how they can incorporate WaiRestoration into their teaching,” she said. “All awa (rivers) lead into the moana (sea), so the coastal riparian environment is both important and relevant to their environmental studies.”

Whananaki School students helped lead the Marine Metre Squared workshop, talking about how exciting it was to become a citizen scientist and survey what was found within a set quadrant on the seashore. A teacher described their presentation as “impressive and this is something children at my own school would enjoy”.

The native bush workshop provided a hands-on experience with participants taught how to identify leaves that could be steeped in hot water and made into a cup of tea. A native bush tea party concluded the exercise.

The tracking and trapping pests workshop gave participants a practical insight into how to use traps and showed them how to use a simple tracking device – a tunnel with bait in the middle and ink either side. They found out that creatures approaching the bait would get ink on their feet, leaving tell-tale marks that led to their identification.

“Mangals are awesome places”, wrote a person on the ‘save a species’ workshop where birds, fish and plants were identified in the mangrove ecosystem. “Mangals are very much a part of our local environment and I found the workshop very relevant,” she said.

Bee plants and beekeeping was a popular topic with one person commenting: “Who would have thought there was so much to know about bees?” Those attending the workshop were taken into the bush to identify plants that bees like and then shown the workings of a beehive.

“It was a fantastic day that ended with everyone making a commitment to continue the work they have started,” Ms Karels said. “They wrote out a self-addressed envelope and put their WairRestoration pledges inside. We’ll send these to them to help get the ball rolling when school starts next year.”