Omokoroa Point School is a Decile 9 full primary school (Year 1 to Year 8 – N.E. to Form 2) with seven classrooms. It is the only school on the peninsula and is located in possibly the most scenic school setting in NZ. They have been involved in WaNZ projects for a number of years with the strong support of principal Vicki Nell and Pest Free Omokoroa. The group is currently made up of 13 senior students (years 6-7-8).
Theme – Introduced Pests
- Understand why a range of animals and plants are classified as ‘pests’.
- Learn how to identify common local animal & plant pest species
- Understand how many introduced animals and plants cause significant threats to our native flora and fauna.
- Learn what people are doing to manage pest populations locally and regional/national targets for pest management
- Built on existing knowledge of students through discussion and observations about local predator control projects.
- With the support of volunteers students tried a range of pest management methods that target different pest species including trapping, lures and baits.
- Kids played simulation games including possum picnic to understand how control processes work.
- Students tracked rodents in the school grounds and learned how to analyse and record their findings.
- Students used different monitoring methods in their local reserve to detect the presence of other pests (including possums and mustelids).
- Students managed rat traps at school, checking them regularly and recording findings in the Predator Free BOP database. All participants follow a safe trap handling process, ensuring they avoid any injury and pests are trapped as humanely as possible.
- Students made pest posters to display in the Whare Maanaki/library area.
- Students learned how to make their own tracking tunnels and chew cards so they could monitor their home sections and surrounding areas.
Theme – Freshwater Stream Ecology.
- Find out where local waterways are found, and information about their ‘setting’
- Learn to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams
- Learn to identify who uses local freshwater resources and how, including some understanding of the range of cultural values around water
- Visit a local stream and learn to assess waterway health
- Learn why our streams are important and the role they play in natural ecosystems
- Learn to identify freshwater invertebrates, fish and eels.
- Learn how and why we monitor stream health
- Students took part in the “where in the world is our water?” activity, including comparative assessment of healthy vs unhealthy streams
- Wild NZ students learnt basic water quality testing and monitoring techniques at school and during the site visits
- Students learnt how to correctly identify invertebrates, fish and eels, how to record results and share them
- Students from OPS visited the stream in Puketoki reserve at the top of Whakamarama hill, then visited the stream in Omokoroa at the bottom of the hill to where the sea meets the freshwater. They assessed the health of each and recorded information about the differences.
- Weeds awareness initiated through specimen ID of some of the most aggressive invasive species in Omokoroa, including moth plant and woolly nightshade.
- Rat traps placed around school grounds. Students checking regularly.
- School registered with “Predator Free BOP” and put out traps on the school grounds.
- Improving habitat and food sources around insect/ lizard hotel area
- Continue and strengthen communication with community via local newsletters and blog.
- Further development of backyard biodiversity with landowners and volunteers
- Support leadership learning, providing ongoing opportunities for Wild NZ kids to step into a leadership “expert” role when working with other students.
- Use Kaylene Place stream + wetland site to create a short film, blog or presentation for D.O.C competition “Habitat heroes”. Ongoing project.
- Continue to strengthen identification skills of native plants, birds and weeds during local excursions.
- Continue to communicate and engage with the principal, teachers, students, parents and the wider community about protecting and enhancing biodiversity in Omokora and the practical steps we can all take to help our local wildlife.
Theme – Forest ecology and mini beasts
- Learn to identify common native trees and plants in their schools and local areas.
- Learn why our native forests are important and the role they play in our ecosystem
- Learn how and why we monitor insect populations.
- Students walked around the school and learnt how to identify the common native tree species and other plants within the school grounds.
- Students selected a native tree or plant and learnt how to make a QR code for it. Students selected the best website before creating their QR code, so other students/teachers/classes can follow our trail, scan the code and discover what the tree/plant is and useful information about it.
- Students participated in a leaf shape scavenger hunt. Everyone brought back their findings to the group, then identified which leaves came from which trees and plants using ID guide books.
- Students dissected the school ‘bug hotel’ to search for and identify insects. They found a lot of snails and had a snail race! We are planning to make many improvements next year.
- Students revisited Kaylene Place and did a mini bio-blitz, surveying the water quality, measuring temperatures, pH, catching invertebrates and fish as well as a 5-minute bird count. We didn’t find eels this time – perhaps it was too hot in this section of unshaded stream.
Theme – Overheard the bird (native & non-native bird species)
- Students learned to identify the birds in their local areas and the purpose of bird monitoring in predator control projects.
- Students, teachers and parent helpers contributed to annual bird surveys (using 5 minute bird counts) and added information to the Wild NZ database
- The Students learned how to correctly identify the most common bird species in their area and gained basic bird call knowledge.
- We investigated local threats to native bird populations
- We practised 5-minute & 1-hour bird surveys at two sites sites(school grounds & at Hamurana Reserve). Finding out about flight patterns& behaviour helped students identify birds too.
- We visited Cooney Reserve and observed the seabirds foraging on the estuary. Matching bird’s beaks and feet to where it lives and what it eats was a great detective exercise.
- Wild students participated in two citizen science projects; the annual garden bird survey in July & the Great Kereru Count in September.
- Students created supplementary bird feeders and nesting material holders.
- Students shared their Kereru knowledge with another class.
Theme – Pest Preventers
Omokoroa Point School students:
- Used a variety of pest monitoring methods (including tracking tunnels and chew cards) to locate pest animals in and around the school grounds and along a monitoring line within the Pest Free Omokoroa pest monitoring network.
- Learned how to identify pest footprints and teeth marks/chew marks on chew cards using identification guides. We found one rat, a few mice and one skink!
- Were visited by Jose Law from Pest Free Omokoroa to hear how their large group of volunteers have been battling pests for years, and the huge difference they have made. Jose has lots of stories and data to explain the devastating effects of pests and the changes they have observed.
- Visited another very successful project at Te Puna Quarry Park and walked the predator traplines with two of the volunteers, who shared their pest knowledge and trapping techniques with the group.
- Identified and understood the range of traps, lures and baits used in different settings, and to target different pest species (while avoiding harm to non-target species).
- Participated in the national Landcare Research Garden Bird survey and added bird counts to the database.
- Played simulation games including “possum picnic”.
Theme – Clean streams
- Year 7-8 classes learn about where our water comes from (visual and interactive session), healthy stream vs unhealthy stream activities.
- Find out how to assess freshwater stream health through observation, collecting macro invertebrates and water quality tests.
- Conducted a bio-blitz with the year 7 & 8 class. Water quality tested at Kaylene Pl and compared to results from other schools across western BoP.
- Students investigated our local wetland at Kaylene place by measuring water clarity, temperature, pH test and searching for macroinvertebrates. Water quality is very low, water temperature is very high, therefore the students found this stream to be in poor condition. However, we still found long fin eels (previous trips) and other native fish living in this stream including inanga.
- Investigated Nells Dell pond, a short walk from the school. Also found to be in poor/average.
- Identification of macroinvertebrates to help assess the stream health.
- Students presented their findings back to their peers regularly, using posters and slide presentations they created.
- Eel/tuna net and minnow trap set at the mouth of the Kaylene Pl stream/near the golf course. Caught two native torrent fish. A great surprise.
- Water control gate investigated to check if it is a barrier to native fish migrationas.
- Eel migration story “Velvet and Elvis” used to initiate eel research projects.
- Mini bio blitz- freshwater focus
- Inanga, eel and moth/butterfly surveys, pitfall traps, lizard area
- Continue solid communication with community
- Further develop the backyard biodiversity concept with landowners and volunteers
- Work towards leadership learning group to teach and work with younger students
- Create short video clips (particularly of year 8 leaders) who will be leaving OPS at the end of the year “wildlife” reporters for WANZ blog/and or council
This term was really varied, we explored the schools “green” space. The students worked on their plant identification, built a tree (role play) and did some leaf rubbings in their nature journals. They were asked questions about who uses the trees i.e. animals and insects and what sort of connections we humans have with the forest. We started a conversation about kauri die back.
Following on from this we had a great session on bugs, the kids were introduced to the “bug man” Rudd Kleinpaste via youtube. We then went and gave some much needed love to the bug and lizard hotel at the back of the school. We have full support from the caretaker Shawn, who kindly offered us materials to use and so have hopefully created an easier space for him to mow around as well. The kids made some great signs to go with the bug hotel. Next year the group needs to investigate what plants to plant around it to attract native insects and provide shade.
We finished up the term with a full class session at the small creek on Kaylene Pl, Omokoroa where the students learnt about longfin eels and how to do water quality testing. There were ~30 students and they all joined in feeling the skin of the eel and learning how to test the water clarity, temperature and Ph levels. Andrew also showed them how to test the phosphate levels with a special kit he had.
Theme – Native Birds “Overheard the bird”
- Learning how to conduct 5-minute bird counts, various locations.
- Learning how to collect and record the data accurately.
- Learning how to correctly identify NZ birds (native and non-native) including their calls and songs
- Bird identification learning through observation of behaviour, knowledge of feeding and features
- Wild students lead a bird identification quiz (using “what bird” bird calls and photos) ~28 students. They then helped their peers to create supplementary bird feeders and nesting material holders (whole class).
- Learnt about the migratory patterns of the bar tailed godwit and threats to its survival. Students painted plywood godwit cut outs which were then displayed at the local bowling clubs annual “Godwit return” competition/celebration.
- Wild students plus students from room 3 voted for “bird of the year” during the run up to the election.
Term 1 and 2
- Learning how to assess freshwater stream/pond health using macro invertebrates, pH, water clarity & temperature.
- Identification of pest plants, pest fish (gambusia) and natives incl eels.
- Stream data collected and displayed in the Whare Maanaki.
- Pest monitoring with trackers and chew cards set on school grounds, backyards and Precious Reserve. Results communicated to the principal and PFO.
- Pest identification – using trakka & chew cards.
- Pest posters created and displayed in the Whare Maanaki.
- Bug hunting and identification on school grounds.
- Participated in The Landcare garden bird survey. Results recorded online.
- Bird identification learning through observation of behaviour, knowledge of feeding options.
- Students reporting back to peers via small presentation and journals.
- Looking at options for setting school blog for WaNZ.
Other recent events
Term 1 the group undertook a freshwater survey down at Kaylene Place with eel expert Paul Woodard. The ponds in the golf course have been quite well populated with eels in the past but we foiund nothing this time, but we did find giant longfins (the rare species) just upstream of Kaylene Place crossing. Our students were enthralled, especially when they were released close to the stream edge and we could see how their long sleek bodies slither then glide when they enter the water!
In terms 2 & 3 the students conducted 5-minute bird surveys at the school grounds, Hamurana Reserve and Precious Family reserves. They also took part in the annual Landcare Research garden bird survey.
In spring, the students made bird feeders using natural materials such as pinecones, hessian sack, wool, fruit, bird seed and suet and their own ingenuity to come up with a variety of styles. They then hung in the trees at school as a yummy treat (and so we could observe birds more closely!).
During term 3 the group took part in the largest national citizen science project, “The Great Kereru Count” to help gather information on the abundance and dispersal of the New Zealand wood pigeon also known as – kereru, kuku or kukupa. http://greatkererucount.nz/ The students tested their knowledge on all things kereru and learnt why this bird is so important in the dispersal and germination of many native plants.
In term 4 the group conducted a “seabird survey” from the Cooney Reserve bird platform with local “twitchers” Wendy and Allen Fox. It was great hearing about the types of seabirds Wendy and Allen have seen locally and having them to help identify the birds we saw.
Term 4- The godwits start returning to the shores around Omokoroa peninsula from early October, so the group will continue furthering their knowledge on these local migrants and to welcome them we will be doing so chalk art so watch this space!
In term 3, the students created a short film for a DOC competition called “Habitat Heroes”. The group set about investigating the health of Hamurana Reserve and its environment, explaining what monitoring they had done and what they thought needed to be done to help improve it. Here is the link to the awesome video they made!
The students also did some small mammal monitoring (using tracking tunnels) at Hamurana Reserve and helped to identify and analyse the animal prints from Pest Free Omokoroa’s trakka cards.
See Omokoroa rodent monitoring for more information!
We have been discussing what makes an animal a pest by playing “possum picnic”. This outdoor activity presents ideas about the impact introduced animal species have on our natural environment. http://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/conservation-education/resources/possum-picnic/
We constructed 5-star weta motels for Hamurana Reserve, which we move around from time to time trying to identify an area more likely
to attract weta. So far it has been more of a slater and cockroach motel!
In term 4 our group created two new 1-star weta motels out of bamboo, one for Precious Reserve (and we feel optimistic that this motel will attract weta) and the other for our school grounds. We are less optimistic about that one.
“It’s going to be better because its more natural place” says Freya.
“Different creatures like different things, so instead of it being wood (like the 5 star weta motel) it is bamboo. It might attract things differently, and hopefully it attracts weta!” Rogan
Recently the group established two pitfall traps, one on the school grounds and one near Precious Reserve. We are looking forward to seeing what we can find in term 4.