Environmental Education at the Manawahe Community Centre

Newsletter 1        Term 3 2015             

Welcome to our new education newsletter. We plan to roll this out every term to keep you all informed about interesting things that are happening with the Manawahe Eco Trust. We are now past the halfway point for the 2015 year with many exciting things to come before the end of this school year. Having been in this position for six months now, I have had the opportunity to meet many passionate people participating and learning about conservation in Manawahe in one way or another. Everyone is making a difference and it is great to see all this enthusiasm and I have really enjoyed being able to build my network. 

We have had groups visiting that range from pre-school right through to senior high school as well as a scouting group. Each group follows their own tailor-made programme suited to the specific needs of that particular group. The four pre-schools that visited all stayed within our grounds at Manawahe. 


Most pre-school groups participated in an `Easter egg’ hunt, where the children have  to find pictures of native birds and trees that are hidden within our grounds. The pictures can then be used to `tell the story’ of how native birds need a healthy and thriving forest to grow and live in. When sharing stories with young children there are some lovely reactions and children are always willing to share stories about their own wildlife experiences. Another popular activity with pre-schoolers is an investigation into foot prints, which is not complete without getting the paint out and making some of your own!  A `hike’ within the grounds of our centre is very popular too. Here we have placed a small number of monitoring tunnels and kill traps. It is very rewarding to watch students get excited about a rat or a stoat that is caught.


The groups with older students have been able to travel to the conservation bush blocks and have actively contributed in one way or another. Both Tarawera High School and Whakatane High School retrieved the monitoring cards from the tracking tunnels. This is an amazing achievement if you know that there are 50 of these tunnels located on a steep forested hillside, without any proper tracks. Some orienteering skills and a dose of good old perseverance are needed to find them all! Both times the tunnels showed very few predator footprints which is a really good sign and we can rest assured and know that out native birds can build their nests and raise their young without being attacked by rats and other vermin.  Other groups helped with weed control, track maintenance and even track marking! Every contribution is valuable and all help in creating a safe environment for our protected bird species.

An exciting new development at the Manawahe Eco Centre is the arrival of 30 tree and bird identification signs. Each nature sign has a picture, a name and a brief description. These signs will offer another exciting learning opportunity for visiting groups.  More work in progress is our carpentry workshop area where students will be able to create birdfeeders, weta houses and nesting boxes. There is a different design for different age groups ranging from Year 3 through to Year 9. Further conservation opportunities are the planning of 200 very small Totara trees, the creation of a new trapping line and insect monitoring activities.

If you have a group that is keen in be involved in conservation or want to understand more about forest ecosystems feel free to contact me and we can organise an education experience that suits the needs of your group!

Yours in conservation

Liddy Bakker

Environmental Educator