Whakamarama School is situated in a very picturesque rural location 4.7 km up Whakamarama Rd. There are a number of bush remnants on private property nearby including two blocks just down the road that use a comprehensive pest management programme to control rodents and possums. Just up the road the 40 hectare Puketoki Scenic Reserve is also being restored (see Friends of Puketoke). In 2015 a new pest control area was set up in the Kaimai mamaku State Forest Park called “the Blade “(70ha). It is accessed from the end of Whakamarama Rd.
Whakamarama School has 3 teachers who are proud of the ideal learning conditions such as small class sizes, excellent resources, parent support and highly motivated, innovative students.
Our students monitored water quality and surveyed freshwater fish and koura at Puketoki Reserve in term1. Water quality is very good and we found plenty of longfin and shortfin eels. Our ‘mark 1’ design tau koura didn’t stay well bunched up and we found just a few small koura so we are looking forward to improving our design (and catch!) next year
In term 2 & 3 the students undertook 5 minute bird counts and participated in the annual Landcare Research ‘Garden bird survey’ http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/birds/garden-bird-surveys.
In September, the entire school participated in the nationwide citizen science project ‘The Great Kereru Count’ http://greatkererucount.nz/
Before starting the survey, they tested their knowledge on all things kereru by taking a kereru quiz. The students learnt that kereru are the only living New Zealand bird that can swallow the largest seeds of our native trees such as tawa, miro, karaka, puriri. This is vitally important as it means they are the only bird able to distribute these seeds (via droppings)!
After the survey the students had a great time making and colouring in origami kereru.
This year the group have been lucky enough to be involved with ‘The Blade’ volunteer pest control group. The students got amongst it in bush, walking possum trap lines with Colin Hewens, the groups coordinator. They learnt how to safely set a possum trap, what lures work best and why Colin hangs his possums up in a tree near by the trap Answer: To lure in any other possums and feed his pals the robins (with the maggots!)
Small mammal monitoring
The students were also involved in establishing the tracking tunnel network within the Blade project area and also helped run the first tracking tunnel monitor. Out of 25 tunnels 17 were tracked by rats = 68% tracking rate! Now that’s high! The Blade group will be aiming for a <5% tracking rate after the toxin operation, if successful. We look forward to hearing their results in the future.
In term 4 we are doing some forest foraging for insects and invertebrates by setting pit fall traps and using our 1-star bamboo weta motels to assess the health of our local insect’s populations.