Whitebait Connection - Canterbury
Coordinators: Kirsty Brennan, Shelley McMurtrie, Nick Hempston (based in EOS Ecology)
Contact: Kirsty Brennan
Phone: 027 962 0662
WBC Canterbury was re-invigourated in 2016 with new coordinators Kirsty and Shelley, providing opportunities for schools and community groups to be involved in real science projects. Nick joined the WBC team in 2017 and adds to the team’s heap of practical experience and knowledge of all things aquatic! The WBC Canterbury coordinators are all based within a Christchurch ecology and engagement company, EOS Ecology, who also have a specialist graphic designer, Bronwyn, who designed the newly created National Inanga Spawning Programme (NISP) resources and produces wonderfully engaging documents for the team.
The first half of 2016 saw 16 schools participating in a Pest Monitoring programme that was connected with the Whaka Inaka science programme. Information was collected by the students about pest activity along the river and recorded on an online database. Results from their monitoring have been collated in a “Pest and Poop Report Card”. In the second half of 2016 WBC Canterbury implemented the first Environment Investigators programme at 16 schools, including three pre-schools. Over 1,200 students grew their knowledge and awareness about inanga and their local waterways, with hands-on field sessions undertaking inanga spawning habitat assessments, as well as looking after inanga in classroom tanks for a term. The end of the programme saw the kids releasing their inanga as part of an inanga celebration day. They also took action for their rivers including producing fliers about rubbish, leaf litter and dog poo, door knocking and interviewing residents, and presenting their findings on poor inanga spawning habitat to the city and regional councils.
The team are excited to be starting another Environment Investigators in 2017 with more kids engaging with inanga. The WBC Canterbury team are always interested to hear about anyone wanting to investigate their waterways, so get in touch!
“We have had many comments from parents and the children were certainly more aware of their local stream environment and their knowledge about whitebait, an animal they knew little about, grew greatly as did their knowledge of environmental factors. Many children indicate it as a highlight of learning this year.”- St Martin’s School
“Our community has a greater awareness of our local environment as well as seeing their children as competent learners who are growing an awareness of water protection. “ – Kidsfirst Kindergarten Opawa
“…the head of our Board of Trustees is very pleased with how engaged the students have been with this topic, and has been asking me about ways to continue using the river as a resource for further learning. The value of this project has been well-noted around [the community], which is especially great because these kids truly fit the mould of "hard to teach,".Bamford School
Kids from Waitākiri school learning how to be pest monitors with Kirsty.
Shelley measuring the angle of the bank within the “love zone” with Waitākiri School
Seeing the inanga in their new home at Kindercare Ferry Rd
Ōpāwa School presenting to the Mayor and Councillors of the Christchurch City Council about what they want to see for their river.