Te Papapa School - term 1 2009
Te Papapa School in the Onehunga-Te Papapa area, Auckland is participating in the EMR programme throughout term 1, 2009 with awesome support from WWF - Marine Matters Fund.
The students started the programme by learning about the marine environment in the school hall including. Jeremy, a masters student from AUT even bought along some freshly dissected deep sea marine life including an anglerfish that was extracted from inside another larger fish! Students learnt about life in the sea from kinas on the rocky reef to deep sea.
Students then spent time in the te Moana Nui a Kiwa leisure centre pools learning to snorkel with the support of some great volunteers.
Onehunga beach - Orpheus Drive Reserve was overrun with students, parents, teachers and volunteers where students from Te Papapa School carried out an above water local investigation into the state of their local marine environment . Invasive species such as the pacific oyster and high levels of sedimentation into the Onehunga inlet have turned the beach and waterfront from white sands to the now muddy intertidal area.
"My dad used to swim here when he was young..." one student commented "... but now we aren't allowed to... it's too dirty". The beach still revealed marine life. Upturned rocks revealed many small crabs and worms living in the intertidal zone and small fish were spotted in the shallows. Some juvenille mangrove trees had also taken root on the shoreline indicating the changing habitats suitable for mangrove growth.
Whilst learning how rubbish harms marine life and how long rubbish takes to biodegrade in the sea the students picked up 4 bags of rubbish from the small beach area over the day. The most common type of rubbish found were plastic wrappers, straws and other small pieces of plastic. "taking up to 200 years to biodegrade, these small pieces of plastic can cause a lot of damage in their time."
Over a week in April the students of Te Papapa school along with aunties, uncles, parents and teachers got to experience New Zealand's oldest marine reserve first hand by snorkeling and glass bottomed boat : Goat Island.
From the first korero at Omaha Marae till departing on the bus the students were entranced by the waters and the life within. "I never knew there was so much life in the sea!" one student exclaimed.
Family members were also greatly impressed by their experience. "We live in the city, and just eat fish from the shops. Now I can see how even we are involved with what is happening to the sea"
With the aid of EMR volunteers, AUT students and WWF staff the students were able to safely snorkel in the marine reserve. For 99% of the students it was their first time snorkeling in a protected area, and for many it was their first time snorkeling in the open water altogether. While not in the water some students carried out a beach clean up at the popular beach. "When I grow up I will drive here with my friends and pick up the rubbish"