Working with Schools

We recognise the importance of raising awareness and understanding among young people and involving them in conservation focused activities in our area. Their enthusiasm and passion for the natural world are encouraging. Our focus is on supporting teachers provide hands on / practical activities that are part of the Conservation experience for students.

In 2022 we worked with the Mangawhai Beach School and Mangawhai Nature School to establish a rat trapping programme, art activities and a shorebirds programme, and with the Waipu Surf Club Rookie Camp where the focus was on shorebirds and dune planting as well as trapping. In 2024 we have expanded our offerings and support and reached several more schools in the area.

Below provides details on our curriculum followed by pictures and stories of our programme in 2022. 
We have developed packages of curriculum- based activities that can be undertaken in the classroom, on the beach, in the bush and on school camps. We have people who have taught in schools with a raft of experience working with conservation and community-based volunteer groups. We are offering their expertise in the field and their understanding of how to achieve the goals you have set for the lesson or for the term.

All the offerings can be adapted to age levels and for species types upon request. These can be cherry picked to support what teachers are doing or they can become a package that is developed and fitted to the learning outcomes the teacher is aiming to provide.

Feel free to access our Teachers Hub including the overview documents and term focused Resource ketes HERE

Youth Education Social Sciences Curriculum

Resource Kete 1: Predator Control - Pest Animals 
An Introduction to Pest Species that are a Threat to our Birds.

Kete 1 is all about pest animals and contains activities and resources to run animal pest identification workshops, 5 minute bird counting and a pest trapping programmes for both school grounds and at home. This aids in students understanding that pest control is an ongoing commitment to help us reach the Predator Free 2050 goal.
Click to view the materials

Resource Kete 2: Healthy Habitat – Plant Pests
Identifying Plant Pests & Eliminating -bring back the balance.

Kete 2 is focused on pest plants that damage our native bush and gardens. Activities includes a scavenger hunt, nature walk, plant identification, planting, seed collection, propagation, identifying plant pests, waterways care and more
Click to view the materials

Resource Kete 3: Taonga needing our protection
Focus on our endemic species particularly the kiwi, bittern and tara iti … the why of conservation.

Kete 3 and recommended activities focuses on a kiwi education box, food, habitat, art based activities and suggested off campus activities.
Click to view the materials

Resource Kete 4: Sharing the Space
Our long haul native and endemic birds.

Kete 4 - migratory shorebirds connect inland New Zealand with the coast and connect New Zealand to the rest of the world. The recommended Term 4 activities include creating a flock, bird menus, bird watching and more.
Click to view the materials

Resource Kete 5: Habitats of significance in our rohe 
Wetlands and salt marshes
Reserves give protection.

Click to view the materials

Resource Kete 6: Thinking about the bigger picture.
Protecting the flyway for long haul migrants
Sand mining
Vehicles on beaches

Click to view the materials

Creating the Flock around Mangawhai

As an acknowledgement of how keen the students at both the Mangawhai Beach School and the Mangawhai Nature School were to trap predators to protect our birds, PBL supplied them with traps to use in their own backyards. This coincided with the return of New Zealand’s long-haul native flock.

As part of their conservation programme the students then learnt about how migratory shorebirds connect inland New Zealand with the coast. Many of our endemic birds migrate from their winter habitat to other places in New Zealand. Examples of this are the tiny Ngutuparore/Wrybill and the much larger Tōrea/South Island Pied Oystercatchers that migrate annually between New Zealand’s main islands, breeding in South Island riverbeds and farmland and wintering on the North Island’s coasts. These are our endemic birds. Tara Iti migrates from coast to coast and is here on our beaches to breed over summer.

Our native long-haul migratory birds connect New Zealand to the rest of the world; they are capable of amazing feats of endurance. An example of this is the Kuaka or Bar-tailed Godwit 4BBRW that created a record by staying in the air for 11 days straight, in its effort to get to its feeding grounds thousands of kilometres from its breeding grounds in Alaska.

Inspired to protect our birds, students at both schools have painted their own ‘Flock'. The 'Flock' is a creative and fun project to spread the word about our amazing migratory shorebirds and what we can to do to ensure their protection. To see the students’ enthusiasm and passion for the natural world is encouraging. This activity has been developed by the Miranda Shorebird Centre.

None of it would have been possible without the amazing volunteer work by Neville from the Waipu Menz Shed who made all the wooden bird cut-outs for the students to paint. What a legend!

Special thanks to Glenys from Mangawhai About Tern. Glenys took on the task of managing the project. She was joined by Jane Vaughan from Mangawhai About Tern at the after-school painting sessions at Mangawhai Beach School. Susan, the PBL educator, did the in-class work to prepare students for the project. It was great to have experienced birders sharing their knowledge and facilitating the activities with teachers Jackie (MBS) and Maree (MNS).
You will see the Mangawhai Nature School’s Flock in the Mangawhai Santa Parade on 11 December 1pm from Alamar Crescent, through Wood Street shops and finishing at MAZ.

Please help these students with their efforts to protect our amazing shorebirds during the holiday period by doing your bit to keep them safe. Remember you are sharing their breeding, feeding and rest-up territory when you go to the beach this summer.


Jackie Fanning showing the students the listening device.

Mangawhai Beach School (MBS)

We are very proud of the work being done with the Mangawhai Beach School Conservation Group –part of their focus in 2022 has been on Kiwi. A definite highlight for this group was a night walk in the bush at Marunui.

An in field session was led by Jackie Fanning and Matu Booth. The group met at the Tanekaha Track and were taken on a walk into Marunui. Jackie had put a tracker on ‘Buddy’, a life-sized kiwi toy wearing a tracking device. She used all the technology that would be used to find a kiwi in the bush. It worked. Using their ears, the students were able to track Buddy to his hiding spot.

Of course, any kiwi that could be tracked like this this kiwi would have to be one that had been caught, banded, and had a transmitter fitted. Earlier in the term the students had been able to examine leg bands closely as there were plenty to pass around in the Kiwi Resource box provided by DOC.

The students later got a chance to watch an incredible story recorded by a camera located near a burrow he thought might be a kiwi burrow. What he learned was something no one had discovered before. The kiwi was competing for burrow space with a rabbit. The awe and ahh sounds the students gave as each part of the contest for space unfolded showed how engrossed they were during this session.

They then got a chance to sit in the dark and listen for kiwi calls. 


Overall winner Moeavai Finan - shot of a sunrise & black swan. 

In May 2022 the group set up a trapline. Now they wait - "Here rat, rat, rat". Thanks Susan Steedman from Waipu About Tern, PBL, Alex (Tara-iti Conservation Trust), Northland Regional Council and Robert from Conservation Coast NZ for helping make this all happen with such ease.

The Enviro Unit at MBS is totally focused on doing their bit towards a Predator Free NZ by 2050 with their term 2 programme. This term will finish with a visit to the estuary across the road and begin the connection to the birdlife. They move their study to the birds of the bush in term 3 and we are planning to focus back on the birds of the estuary for term 4 when our migratory native species return.

In June 2022 we supported the MBS conservation photographic competition with the support of photographer Aaron Skelton who judged the competition. Aaron provides many stunning images to PBL for our social media posts and website.  Aaron was delighted to see such an array of fantastic shots making it a hard decision in each category.

The overall supreme award was won by 8 year old Moeavai Finan who took a shot of a sunrise and black swan. An amazing shot, the colours in the sunrise grabbed Aarons attention straight away and then lead the eye down to the calm water. Moeavai handled the exposure on the sun very well, and the silhouette of the black swan is sharp and framed very well - the swan ties everything together. Congratulations Moeavai and well done to all the students that entered.

Big thanks also to the sponsors of the prizes. Aaron will be taking Moeavai on a one-on-one photoshoot session and also be taking home a set of binoculars donated by volunteer from About Tern and PBLs Susan Steedman, and a great Kiwi Coast beanie. The category winners will be taken on private guided night walk in Marunui Conservation area to do Kiwi listening kept warn with a Kiwi Coast beanie. 2nd place winners receive a Kiwi Conservation Club membership and a Wild Things magazine kindly donated by Glenys Mather from About Tern. 3rd place winners receiving a lovely nectar feeding plant donated by Mangawhai Natives.

The annual MBS World Environment Day Photography Competition is coordinated by Jackie Fanning (MBS classroom teacher and Enviro Unit Leader).

Age 5 & 6

1st place went to Charlie Farrimond with a beautiful action shot of this dove taking off with great colours and view.

Age 7 & 8

1st place went to Crush Hutchings who took an awesome shot of this kingfisher on rock - great to get close to a kingfisher at eye level. Strong colours on the bird and great blur in the background.

Age 9 & 10

1st place went to Kieran Muller with a wonderful shot of a Kereru in Nikau. The pigeon is sharp and the eye is clear, the bird sits nicely in the frame making it very natural shot.

Age 11 & 12

1st was awarded to Georgia Barnes with a stunning reflection shot of the royal spoonbills -centred nicely along with the cool colours, the image is nicely exposed which can be quite difficult when the bird is all white.


Mangawhai Nature School Hiking Adventure

In June 2022 about twenty-five students hit the Tanekaha walking track to enjoy the beautiful Brynderwyn ranges and learn more about the bush. Big thanks to Greg Stump from Mangawhai Trackies and Waipu Kiwis who kindly guided the botanical walk with the students.

It is great to see our local schools embracing environmental education for their students, and business supporting the programmes being offered. The recent Tanekaha track adventure for the students was to continue their learning from the seed collection and propagation workshop recently run by Ricky from Mangawhai Natives. The students have been learning animal pest control including managing traps on the school grounds and recording their catch data, seed collection and propagation. The Tanekaha track walk acquainted the students with new experiences ranging from boot washing to help reduce the spread of Kauri dieback, observing eels in streams, stoat trapping, identifying native plants that have healing properties, and discussing track building and what the volunteers do.

Teacher Maree Stewart said, “They all had a wonderful time and were full of all sorts of questions and discussions when we returned.”
Greg knows the track better than most having been one of the volunteer track builders for the Mangawhai Trackies who built the track. "What a wonderful group of young people … so well behaved and smart. I was impressed by their demeanour and felt lucky to have spent the day with them."

Student Poppy could not get the smile off her face throughout the day: her great passion is for the outdoors and animals.
In the coming term the students will continue their work including taking home rat trap boxes built by the Waipu MenzShed to extend trapping into their own backyards. They will also start to learn about stream and freshwater health and how that fits into our broader ecosystem, including identification of the creatures in their school streams.

Looking at the impact focused conservation can have.

In their 2022  visit to Tara Iti, students from Mangawhai Nature School looked at the impact focused conservation can have. The daytrip was extending the existing work the students have been doing around conservation such pest trapping in the school habitat.

During their visit to Tara Iti (led by the Conservation Manager, Alex Flavell-Johnson), students were able to walk from regenerating native bush to wetlands and see the sand dunes that had been stabilised with planting. It was interesting to learn that the plants used had been grown from locally sourced seed and raised in a nursery close by. Students were also able to see that plants had managed to self-seed from one wetland area to another. When they saw the beehives, they instantly thought that these for being used to produce honey. It didn’t take long for the conversation to move to the role of insects in a habitat and to how different plants use different methods to spread their seeds.

Though they didn’t see a bittern in the wetlands, they found bittern footprints in the sand. One of the things that really drew their interest was the camera that had been set up to monitor hedgehogs. One of the first things they did was look for tracks in the sand. These students have all been trapping in the school environment, so this was a good way to bring the conversation around to pests in a habitat. They diverted to look at traps to see if there was catch in any of them. These traps are different to the rat traps they use at the school and at home. These junior trappers are doing such a great job with their own trap line and with traps at home.

The number of quail moving about and skylarks singing above the group as they walked made it easy to turn the conversation to birds. On their walk along the way to Te Arai stream they encountered oyster catchers in pairs, Northern New Zealand Dotterel protecting territory, and pipits in the sand around the dune plants. All these birds are endemic. When they reached the fenced off area on the other side of Te Arai stream, they had a better understanding of why the fence was up and they were able to look at how birds use debris for shelter. Though there were whitefront terns present there were no New Zealand Fairy Tern. It is not unusual to see fairy tern close to the other the larger terns such as Tara and Taranui.

A big thanks to Alex for making the visit to Tara Iti happen and to their teacher Maree for the organisation behind such a trip.
Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare Group also continue to appreciate the amazing support of sponsors like Mangawhai Heads Four Square, Northland Reginal Council and Waipu MenzShed who provide the rat trapping kits to the schools in the area. If you would like to get involved or know more about the school programmes in the area please reach out to Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare Group. 

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