Celebrating World Oceans Day - Marine kaitiaki guardians from Kaitaia to Otago are rewarded with Poor Knights snorkel experience!

The annual EMR competition trip is organised by Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) and is made up of representative students from each school that that participates in the programme from Northland and Auckland, as well as representatives from eight regions where EMR is operating including Taranaki, Coromandel, Gisborne, Wellington,
Nelson and Otago.

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The annual EMR competition trip sponsored by Dive! Tutukaka and the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation took place last week, the trip started in 2002 with just three students from three Northland schools, this year we had another 25 schools from 8 regions and 32 students participate. Since 2002, a total of 223 schools and 347 students have participated in this trip. The participation of EMR representative students from the regions is thanks to the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation (including flights, transfers, accommodation and charter for the parents).

Students were selected based on their action projects undertaken and enthusiasm they show when studying & experiencing the marine environment. The EMR programme involves leaning about marine biodiversity in the classroom, snorkelling in the pool, and investigating the local marine environment before experiencing a marine reserve and taking action with regards to marine conservation in their communities. The national expansion of EMR in the regions is supported by the Tindall Foundation and the DOC Community Fund

“The standards of action projects that go beyond the school environment were superb. Students were
involved in a variety of projects that address local marine issues such as presentations on marae, campaigning council and writing letters to the editor” says programme director Samara Nicholas.

“This competition offers the students added incentive to produce projects and positive actions towards marine conservation within their community. It is not only a special opportunity for the students, but for their parents/guardians too, as they also get a chance to experience the magical Poor Knights, which is a new opportunity for all from the regions’’ says programme director Samara Nicholas

In addition to the opportunity to represent the school or region for the EMR ACTION prize, we offered the Bobby Stafford-Bush – EMR Ocean Art prize. The Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation supports this special prize for young kiwis that have experienced the marine environment with EMR and display that passion and experience through art.

On board the vessel ‘Perfect Day’ we snorkelled at the stunning Blue Mao Mao arch at South Harbour, named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, and part of the Poor Knights Islands that have been protected by no-take status since 1981. By the end of the day many students had made new friends and could not stop smiling with parents commenting on what an awesome opportunity it was for everybody. The dolphins at the end of the trip were an added bonus.

On the 8th June 2016, we celebrate World Ocean’s day with the them ‘Healthy oceans, healthy people’, the young people on this trip are an inspiration group of ocean kaitiaki (guardians).