Mercury Bay Area School
Mercury bay Area School situated in Whitianga on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula has a roll of 780 students with approximately 455 students in the years 7-13 section of the school.
The EMR programme in the Hauraki area was first piloted in 2008 and coordinated by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
The programme was piloted with the year 8 students from Mercury Bay Area School. The aims of running the EMR programme in the Hauraki area were:
1. Providing quality marine education opportunities to schools, communities and professionals in the Hauraki area.
2. Increasing awareness, encouraging action and support for Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and marine conservation in New Zealand.
3. Providing the local schools and their communities with the expertise and knowledge to experience Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve environment first hand. Leading to understanding of marine conservation issues in the Hauraki Area and fostering kaitiakitanga of Te Whanganui-A-Hei and the local unprotected marine area.
The programme was successful and grew to include Colville and Tapu School students in 2009.
Students from all three schools learnt about their marine environment and marine reserves, and the habitats found in our marine reserve as well as the creatures that live in them. All students were then taught to snorkel by qualified snorkel instructors, before investigating their local unprotected marine area.
The field trip started at the southern end of Hahei Beach where children were surprised to find hardly and marine biodiversity. From there classes walked along the picturesque Cathedral Cove walkway to the Gemstone Bay snorkel trail in the heart of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei marine reserve. The reserve was established in 1992, so it has had time to grow in marine biodiversity. Children and adults alike were thrilled and amazed at the amount of life and the size of fish and crayfish.
The EMR programme was piloted with 57 year 8 students in February / March 2008. DOC ranger Dan Rapson led the class sessions with follow up from the fantastic teachers Robyn Fotheringham, Julie Bougen and Paul Scott. Snorkelling lessons were run at the school pool by the class teachers during phys ed time.
There was plenty of media interest as well as HUGE support from the local community. A special shout out needs to go to Darrell Bird and the staff at Dive HQ Whitianga for lending us kayaks and staff for the feild trips to Te Whanganui-A-Hei. Also to Whitianga Pharmacy for providing the students with underwater cameras.
Ranger Dan teaches students the importance of marine biology and marine reserves
Getting geared up to for the Gemstone bay snorkel trail in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve
Mercury Bay Seafaris (Glass Bottom Boat) sponsored prizes for Sea Week
Forty - six MBAS students went through the programme during Februry / March 2009. Staff changes in DOC meant that ranger Rebekah Caldwell took a lead roll in the class sessions with the help of Marine 'techie' Kristina Hillock. These lessons were followed up by the same awesome teaching staff, Robyn, Julie and Paul.
Class snorkelling lessons were again taken by the class teachers during school time.
Yet again great work was produced by the students and their passion for the marine environment really shone through.
A special 'shout out' to Darrel Bird and the team at Dive HQ Whitianga for their amazing deals on the new equipment.
With seventy-five MBAS students enrolled for the 2010 year meant that we had to get ourselves more staff, new co-ordinator Krishna Duffin joined the team in November 2009 to help with the expanding number of students.