03 April 2019
Kiwi students are getting the opportunity to go bush, camp out under the stars and participate in hands-on conservation activities thanks to a partnership between Auckland Zoo and Mazda Foundation and the support of Auckland Regional Parks.
Mazda Foundation is providing financial support and a Mazda BT-50 vehicle to help Auckland Zoo deliver and expand its Outreach Conservation Education programmes for students (Years 5-13).
“Mazda has long supported the Zoo, supplying us with vehicles to help drive our staff and the wild work we do for threatened species all around Aotearoa. We’re delighted that Mazda Foundation is now joining us to help nurture and grow our future conservationists,” says Auckland Zoo director, Kevin Buley.
The popularity and success of the programmes the Zoo currently runs at Te Atatu (with Community Waitakere) and at Auckland Regional Park’s Tāwharanui open sanctuary, are illustrating just how curious, caring and passionate young Kiwis are about the natural world.
“As a community conservation organisation, we see our outreach conservation education, through which we hope to foster in children a greater empathy for wildlife, the world around them and indeed for each other, as one of the most exciting and important things we can do,” says Buley. “We are seeing the optimism and resolution in our children to be kaitiaki for our planet and provide a better future for people and wildlife, and Auckland Zoo wants to support this positivity and gathering momentum in every way we can.”
Mazda New Zealand, Managing Director David Hodge says they are delighted to be extending their level of involvement with the Auckland Zoo and the programme fits perfectly with one of the Mazda Foundation’s objectives which is to support environmental initiatives.
“The Outreach programme is fantastic as it allows students to get some very practical experience and knowledge that will provide them with a greater understanding and appreciation of the environment and its inhabitants.”
Outreach programmes integrate Mātauranga Māori principals (the Māori world view and Māori conservation practices) and focus on practically equipping and empowering young New Zealanders to positively contribute to conserving Aotearoa’s unique biodiversity.
On the overnight Tāwharanui experience, students participate in bird and lizard monitoring, pest monitoring and trapping techniques, and go on a hikoi to do field work in forest, wetlands and marine reserve ecosystems. After dark, educators and students head into the forest, home to rare endemic nocturnal taonga, and explore the night sky.
Auckland Zoo outreach educator Frazer Dale says: “What’s so cool is that along with learning practical field conservation science skills to apply to projects back at their school, at home and in their communities, some of these kids are getting to camp out overnight for the very first time.”
“They are also getting to collaborate and work together, essential skills for achieving any conservation success, and are leaving having experienced unforgettable moments – like seeing or hearing a kiwi or takahē at night – moments that will last a lifetime,” says Frazer.
With Mazda Foundation’s support, Auckland Zoo is looking to expand its outreach conservation education offerings to other sites in and around the Auckland region (in schools, local parks and reserves) and for all ages. In time, the Zoo also hopes to be able to offer subsidies to low deciles schools to give more students the opportunity to participate.
For full details about Auckland Zoo Outreach Conservation Science Education programmes, visit aucklandzoo.co.nz/outreach