Kaitiaki ki a Kāpiti 2017

For young people working on environmental restoration, it can sometimes be hard to envision what things will look like into the future. But, for seven young Porirua students, an overnight adventure to Kāpiti Island has been the experience of a lifetime and provided plenty of inspiration for what the future could look like for Te Awarua o Porirua.

The trip is run annually by the Mountains to Sea Wellington Trust and aims to immerse the students in island life to inspire and celebrate their kaitiaki (guardianship) projects. According to Brandon Intermediate student Jak Ruatapu, the setting certainly worked it’s magic. “I’ve never seen a place like this before. There are so many fish in the reserve, and birds in the forest. It [made] me feel amazing.”

The students spent the weekend learning about native species and conservation techniques from scientists and environmental educators by literally diving into all the island offers; including a snorkel in Wellington’s oldest marine reserve. They also hiked through the regenerating native forest, learned local Māori knowledge about the island, and were able to see numerous protected species. A highlight for many was seeing the Little Spotted Kiwi during the night walk. “We saw about five Kiwi – they were very small and hard to see at night – it was such a cool experience.” said Anika Bowman from Churton Park School.

Jak Ruatapu, Cara McCully, and Devante Nichols, learn about native plants from Kāpiti Island Nature Tours guide, Terese McLeod.

Department of Conservation’s Kāpiti Island Rangers, Genevieve Spargo and Nick Fisentzidis, were also really impressed with the students, “These kids will be doing my job one day! They [were] very engaged and curious, asking some wonderful questions about how they could apply conservation techniques in their community.” Paremata School student, Carter Birmingham, was particularly interested in the pest eradication on the island, having led a pest-trapping project on their school grounds for the past year. “Seeing all the different species on Kāpiti Island is amazing. We’ve been working hard with our Pest-Free Paremata School project, but now it’s time for the rest of the community to get behind conservation projects like ours.”

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Biodiversity Advisor, Jo Fagan was delighted with the students response to the island. “These young students have shown amazing leadership with the development of their projects and engagement of their community, and we’re thrilled to support this competition and experience for these wonderfully deserving young kaitiaki.”

Mountains To Sea Wellington’s Programme Director, Zoe Studd, said, ”Every year we’re blown away by the initiative and vision of local student-led environmental action projects, and this year was no different. All the students who came to Kāpiti Island with us absolutely embodied what it means to be a kaitiaki – a guardian of the environment.”

The annual Kaitiaki ki a Kāpiti competition is run by Mountains to Sea Wellington with the support of Greater Wellington Regional Council, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and the Department of Conservation. It is also supported by Porirua City Council, Porirua Harbour Trust, Enviroschools and Pātaka Gallery.

This years winning students were: Marley Fuelton, Jak Ruatapu and Mayala Parau from Brandon Intermediate, Cara McCully and Anika Bowman from Churton Park School, and Carter Birmingham, Ryan Tinney, and Devante Nichols from Paremata School.

Share this Project