Gisborne Whitebait Connection
Coordinators - Murray and Joe Palmer
DoC Project Supervisor - Awhina White
Gisborne's goal is to deliver schools and their communities practical, holistic and inspiring information and education about local freshwater environments and to promote positive changes in attitudes and behaviour towards them.
The Gisborne area has received three years of seed funding now and are in the process of researching alternative funding for the WBC program to make it locally sustainable.
Currently they've ventured into a range of new and innovative projects. These include mapping the ecology of all the waterways in the Gisborne region - in partnership with schools and community groups - and developing relative restoration plans with students, whanau and the Gisborne DC and Wairoa DC.
Murray and Joe Palmer have coordinated & delivered the WBC programme to Whangara School, Gisborne School, Ilminster Intermediate, Mahanga E Tu Inc. Society, Mangapapa School and Mangapapa Stream Restoration Roopu, Te Rongo I Te Kai Marae; Ruatoria Schools. Some feedback from students and teachers below:
Lisa Maniapoto, Principal Whangara School: "Created a local awareness of water ecosystems throughout the community. By teaching our children, the whole whanau has become aware of local environmental issues. Our children have taken a positive kaitiakitanga (guardianship) role.
Chuck Ngaira, Kaiako Ka Timata Alternative Educaton Centre: "As a result of their [Whitebait Connection team] ability to un lock the mysteries of learning, we have seen students who have been alienated from mainstream education develop their own passion for conservation, sustainability, guardianship and career paths."
Stormy, student Te Turanganui a Kiwa Activity Centre: "Yesterday we went to Nuhaka. At first I thought it was going to be dumb but I was wrong. It was mean. I got the most bugs out of all of us."
- New WBC school, Ilminster Intermediate, students and teachers are extremely enthusiastic about engaging in an extensive year long programme which integrates freshwater and marine studies (also doing the EMR programme) with the Discovery Science Centre and community responsibility. Restoration sites have been identified and an initial baseline understanding of the protected area has been developed. Plans for engaging landowners have been established, and the students will be driving the research. Their future plans involve commencing a “full centre cluster” participation which includes; developing a database (in conjunction with GDC), extending buy-in from the wider community, commencing stream surveys and a replanting/restoration program. This is along-term project that will be eventually sustained by the school.
- WBC collaboration with Mahanga E Tu Incorporated Society (MET Inc) on the “Mahanga Stream, Wetland and Beachfront Protection Project” has enabled community education in aquatic ecology and land use planning as well as a heightened level of active protection for Mahanga Stream as part of a wider wetland/stream/coastal protection and enhancement focus.
- Te Ronga I Te Kai Marae and Ruatoria Schools have used biological indicators to assess stream health that has close links with Tangata Whenua indicators (fish, birds, invertebrates) and undertaken wider catchment mapping and evaluation.
- The coordination of the 'Tairawhiti Stream Ecology and Catchment Management Workshop', which was attended by WBC, school teachers, Gisborne District Council and environmental NGO's. Improved relationships and networks (government organisations, schools, communities)'. Through this, WBC Gisborne was able to bring together potential participants/educators with the goal of having a regionally based implementation of the WBC concepts and objectives. They are now working together more collaboratively and another workshop is planned with the group to have input into the 'Urban Development Strategy'.