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Poor Knights Competition Trip 2019

Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) – Te Kura Moana

Thirty three rangatahi and their whanau from all around Aotearoa rewarded with Poor Knights snorkel experience!

The 18th annual EMR Poor Knights competition trip took place on Friday the 17th May. The trip was organised by Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) and made up of representative students from each school that participates in the programme from Northland and Auckland, as well as 2 representatives from the other 6 regions EMR is operating including Taranaki, Coromandel, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson and Otago.


On board the vessel ‘Perfect Day’ our snorkel site this year was Cave Bay. Cave Bay tumbles down over boulders, where you can look up you and see the sheer cliffs of Tawhiti Rahi. The bottom is rocky boulders and is a pooling area for the stunning Blue Mao Mao and two spot demoiselles. Stingrays, black angel fish, marble fish and blue fish were amongst the other fish encountered, along with large snapper that cruise by unconcerned. The Poor Knights Islands marine reserve has been protected since 1981 and Cave Bay has had full no-take protection since 1998.

The competition trip is sponsored by Dive! Tutukaka and the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation, the trip started in 2002 with the support of Dive Tutukaka with just three students from three Northland schools, this year we had another 27 schools represented from 8 regions, 33 students, 30 parents and 8 supporters participate. Since 2002, we have taken representatives from 301 schools, totalling 441 students on this annual trip. This adventure is just as special for the adults on board, as it is for the students, with an adult caregiver to accompanying each student..
The participation of EMR representative students from the regions is thanks to the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation, including flights, transfers and accommodation in Tutukaka for the entire weekend.

AnnualPoorKnights DarrylTorckler

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.

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.


 Tamati Patuwai (parent from Orakei School, Auckland) - Incrediable day to swim with the fishes and learn about this place. My girl is of Ngatiwai desent. If we look at the future, the world, environment, catastrophes, climate change etc, the future does not look good, but when you pull us all together like ‘Te Kura Moana’ is doing the future looks great.

Emmanuel Kelly (parent from Brooklyn School, Nelson):
Absolutely awesome, loved the Blue Maomao. Go the Maomao, really lovely team of people. Thanks heaps.

Thomas Pope (student representing Otago):
A lot warmer than Dunedin. Everything was really fun and exciting, what a lot of different diving in waters like here.

Paul Pope (parent from Otago):
It would be easy to swap being a Highlander to a Northlander!. Well organized and exciting, fantastic trip that was inspiring for young and old.

Isla Bell-Chambers (student from Riwaka School, Nelson) :
If you are so “fantastic” do something drastic to stop the plastic!

Aria Macdonald (student from Coroglen, Coromandel):
It was fun and there was heaps of different fish. One of the best times of my life.

Harper Kelly ( student from Brooklyn School, Nelson):
I loved the trip. The fact that they give this for free is so amazing and generous.
Really nice day for (most of it) amazing experience, I wish that a lot more people can enjoy it. Hopefully over time, big schools of fish like Blue Maomao can be seen, at Tonga Bay Island, 3 fish if you’re lucky. At Poor Knights you see 8 schools of fish.

Lorcan Honeyfield (student from Whanuakura School, Taranaki):
A memory I will never forget, thanks EMR and Dive Tutukaka.

Wiremu Ropiha (student from Kaiti School, Gisborne):
Thanks to the EMR for the weekend and to the Dive Tutukaka, I really had fun.

Jonah Coleman (student from Otago):
Thank you so much, the whole of the EMR crew. This has been a real eye opener for the world around us, this has been a once in a life time opportunity (if I don’t come back, but I will).
, I really liked the boat ride out. When we got out to Poor Knights it was nice and calm, water a lot warmer than home. A lot of tropical fish that I’d ever seen before.

Mike Coleman (Parent from Otago):
Water I can be comfortable in, water I can see in, great trip, great kai, thank you all the EMR people involved.

Megan Jones : (parent from Waterview, Auckland)
Fantastic once in a lifetime experience. Can’t believe I haven’t been before, will definitely be back in summer.

Glenn Wellington (parent from Newtown School, Wellington):
We had such an awesome time. Real cool range of experiences, great bunch of people and really well organized. The Poor Knights is hard to beat, the kids projects were amazing, but really liked the way the kids were hitting it off, racing round having fun together by the end.

Kyle Fitzsimons (parent from Puketapu School, Taranaki):
WOW!! Amazing experience, beautiful people doing great things. Authentic and inspiring. Creating a better world by encouraging our children to care more for our environment and teaching them that the way they live can really make a difference to our future generations. Thankyou so much Samara and Sarah and crew.

Alastair Honeyfield (parent from Whanuakura School, Taranaki):
Thanks EMR for the awesome experience snorkelling the Poor Knights. I hope to be back again soon!

Greg Edpalina (parent from Wellington Seventh-Day Adventist School, Wellington):
I absolutely loved every minute of this experience. From snorkeling at Poor Knights to drift snorkeling at the mangroves, looking for micromolluscs and walking to Whale beach, every part I will never forget. Thank you for educating us to help preserve and take care of our marine reserves. Hats off to EMR team, Samara, Sarah, Lorna and the rest of the crew!!!

Damon Macdonald (parent from Coroglen School, Coromandel) Hardcore! Thanks everyone for making it happen, unforgettable!

Raewyn Johns (grandmother from Makauri School, Gisborne):
Thanks EMR for the awesome experience, loved the snorkeling and the walk today. Keep up the good work. Was great meeting you all, thanks.

Jessie Chambers (parent from Riwaka School, Nelson):
Loved the passion and knowledge from the EMR leaders about the area and environment around us. An inspiration, thank you!

Stephen Bennett (student (7 years) from Makauri School, Gisborne):
Thank you for the trip, loved the snorkeling and seeing all the cool fish.
Tanya Popp (parent from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Harataunga, Coromandel) :
Thank you so much for a wonderful experience. To be able to come with my daughter, to feel challenged, excited and learn so much about our marine environment. I feel so inspired going home, to tell people how stunning it was to float in the sea amongst big schools of maomao, trevally, big snapper swimming by unconcerned.

Zoran Munro (student from Warkworth school) “The Poor Knights is so cool and I’m inspired to take more action”.

Zoran made a silt fence and was investigating silt control as part of his action project. He wanted to find out what silt does to the marine environment. “

“This year we also introduced a new prize for a Northland student, the Darren Shields free diving representative, for a male Northland high school student that shows talent for free diving, the inaugural prize was won by Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga student Croatia Rudolph” says national EMR director Samara Nicholas (MNZM)

Chelsea Rae: (student from Pukenui School, Northland)
“I saw one of those fish that goes from female to male!”
“We saw stingray.
My highlight was getting all the videos on camera”

Sidney Ellis: (student from Waipu School, Northland)
“Snorkeling and looking at all the shapes of the rocks. My Dad told me that in 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish”

Taylor Dackers: (student from Whangarei Girls High)
Its so beautiful, the amount of fish in schools was amazing.

Jorja Collings: (student from Whangarei Girls High)
“Was cool to see the different schools to come together. I think there should be more places like the Poor Knights around NZ”

Cameron Mitchell: (student from Totara North, Northland)
“Today was the best day of my life”

Lily-Mae Smith: (student from Kamo Intermediate)
“This is the most of fish I’ve seen in NZ”

Andrea Smith (parent from Kamo Int):
“Good to see the fish. The abundance of fish is amazing. Really fun experience, amazing to see all the fish”

Pippa Ryder (student from Maungkaramea, Northland):
“Seeing all the different types of fish. Would like to see more protection of the marine environment”

Keishana Davies-Moon (student from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga):
“Seeing all the scenery was a highlight of the day”

 2019 list of student attendees and schools:
Pukenui School - Jamie Valadares
Pukenui Schoiol - Chelsea Rae
Kamo Intermediate - Lily-Mae Smith
Kamo Intermediate - Lily Sioch
Waipu Primary School - Sidney Ellis
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga - Croatia Rudolph
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga - Keishana Davies-Moon
Totara North - Cameron Mitchell
Pompallier - Ryan Taylor
Paparore -Caedance Brown
Whangarei Girls High- Taylor Dackers
Tikipunga High- Olivia Bratty
Whangarei Girls High - Jorja Collings
Maungakaramea - Pippa Ryder

Warkworth Primary School - Alex Gray
Warkworth Primary School - Zoran Munro
Koru School - Georose Tuineau-Lafaele
Orakei School- Iohanna Patuwai
Tamaki College - Talya Te Puawaitanga O te Aroha Tamariki
Tamaki College- Charlie Murray
Waterview School - Alexander Hutchinson-Jones

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Harataunga - Rosa Ballard
Coroglen - Aria Rae Macdonald

Kaiti School - Wirimu Ropiha
Makauri School - Stephen Bennett

Puketapu School - Kalilah Fitzsimons
Whanuakura School - Lorcan Honeyfield

Newtown - Ella Katherine Wellington
Wellington Seventh-Day Adventist School - Xinia Fe Haban

Riwaka - Isla Bell-Chambers
Brooklyn School - Harper Kelly

Otago Boys High - Thomas Pope
John McGlashan College - Jonah Coleman


For more information contact Samara Nicholas (MNZM) 09 433 8205 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Experiencing Marine Reserves website
Facebook album for the event -

Images by Darryl Torckler – please credit

Background information:

Background info:
Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) - 18th Annual Poor Knights Competition

Thanks to Dive! Tutukaka and the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation
The national delivery of the EMR programme is made possible thanks to the Tindall Foundation and DOC Community Fund. Participation in Northland and Auckland is thanks to Foundation North. Snorkel equipment is provided by Wettie.

The EMR programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community. The action component of the EMR programme is an essential factor in the students learning process and one which helps us to assess the effectiveness of the programme at meeting the projected learning and conservation outcomes. Students need to be able to decide on, plan and take effective action on marine environment sustainability issues that concern and motivate them. The action is aimed at addressing a relevant marine issue. Teachers connect the students EMR experience and growing understanding of the issue to achievable things they can do that will make a difference for the future and put their idea into action.
By encouraging students to undertake action that is based on their own experience, EMR aims to empower students and encourage support for marine conservation.

Since its introduction in Northland in 2002, programme uptake has continued to increase throughout the country. This competition offers the students added incentive to produce projects and positive actions towards marine conservation within their community. It also gives the students with their parents or guardians a chance to experience the magical Poor Knights, which is a new opportunity for most. This competition trip is sponsored by the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation and Dive Tutukaka, with support from the Tindall Foundation and is offered to students (number depends on number of students involved/spaces on boat and quality of action projects) from each school participating in the EMR programme from Northland and Auckland (up to 20 schools every year) and 1 representative from each other region participating in EMR (Taranaki, Coromandel, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson and Otago). Based on our criteria, representatives from each of the participating EMR schools/regions were chosen by an EMR regional coordinator.
In addition to the opportunity to represent the school or region for the EMR ACTION prize, we introduced a new prize in 2015, the Bobby Stafford-Bush – EMR Ocean Art prize. A Living Inheritance - Bobby Stafford-Bush was young but he was passionate about the sea, marine life, art, technology, inventing and making things. He also liked to help people. He was a very capable young man who had his life ahead of him when he was so tragically killed in a car accident at 16 years of age in 2001. Some time has passed since Bobby died and the family have decided that the formation of a charitable trust would in a sense be a living document to Bobby and in essence be an extension of what if he had lived. Accordingly, the Family decided to create a "living inheritance".


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