On 15 March, fifty-one students travelled to Rotoroa Island for the day to learn about conservation.

Rotoroa Island has been declared pest free and native plants and fauna have been re-established as part of a conservation effort.

 

We engaged in a range of hands on activities. The day began with learning about pests and predators. The students then had to identify various predators that are a threat to our native wildlife, such as rats, stoats, ferrets and possum. Another activity involved using GPS instruments to locate various animal tracks. The students then had to identify what animal made the prints using identification charts. They also had to identify native birds "hidden" in trees by the bands that they wore around their legs. It was a bit of a competition, so you can imagine that everyone was intent on finding as many animals/tracks/birds as possible.

 

We also went on a hikoi (walk) around the island and learned how scientists monitor our endemic animals and whether pests have managed to get back on to Rotoroa. Strict biosecurity measures are taken to ensure that visitors don't inadvertently bring in some undesired plant or fauna. While on the island, we got to see rare birds such as takahe and weka, all endemic species. There are only approximately three-hundred and forty seven takahe left in the whole world and weka are even more threatened than our native kiwi.

 

Our science programmes aim to equip our students for citizenship. We want them to be able to see their world through a scientific lens and make decisions based on evidence. One of our aims is to nurture and develop "Eco-warriors", young people who will make informed decisions about environmental issues. We believe that the Rotoroa Island trip met this criteria and has been a huge benefit for all involved.

 

Of course, part of the fun was travelling on the ferry, having lunch at Ladies Bay and visiting the island museum. The students enjoyed taking part in something so unique with their friends and were great ambassadors for Somerville Intermediate School.

 

We would like to thank all of the parents and grandparents who came and helped on the day. Your support was invaluable and enabled us to go. Thank you.

 

Reported by: Mr Stuart Read