Local students are learning about how Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary will protect our native plants and animals.
Seeds collected from Kaipupu Point (manuka, kanuka, poroporo, karaka, karamu, and flax) have been planted and nurtured, and the students will eventually plant them in the sanctuary to help the bush recover to its natural state. They are also studying how the plants grow and the effects of predators as part of their maths and science lessons.
This is all part of our local schools education programme, ‘Making a Better Place’.
This programme seeks to create a long-term interest by engaging children through hands-on activities that will also allow them to contribute to the revegetation component of the Sanctuary project. The lead education person on the Kaipupu Point management team (Andrew John) is an experienced science teacher with a strong interest in promoting understanding of the environment and its conservation in school children. The schools programme is being developed as a partnership with local schools.
The first 2 schools involved are Picton School and Koromiko school. A major component of this education programme application is the construction of a shade house at Picton School. Koromiko School already has a shade house. Through offers of free labour and reduced material costs provided by local businesses, we will be able to keep the costs of this construction down. Students will be able to grow around 800 native plants every year in the nursery. All these plants will go back to Kaipupu.
The work with these schools will continue and from the experience gained we will be able to extend the Kaipupu education programme to other schools in Marlborough .Students have also made tracking tunnels for the sanctuary. These tunnels are a clever monitoring device used for early detection of smaller pests such as rats, stoats and hedgehogs before there is any sign of the pests being present by being caught in traps. Ink-pads in the tunnel records the footprints of any animals passing through. The students will place these tunnels in a grid system on Kaipupu.
After seeing the pest-proof fence on Kaipupu themselves, the students built their own replicas of this high-tech barrier that stands across the isthmus between Picton Harbour and Shakespeare Bay. The real fence in the sanctuary is 2 metres high, built of stainless steel wire mesh, with a special hood on top to prevent jumpers and climbers like cats, possums, and stoats getting over, and a “skirt” to prevent burrowing animals such as rabbits and rats from digging under it. The students models of the fence are made of wood, wire mesh and aluminium foil, but the building of these models brought home the message of how hard it is to keep pests and predators out of the sanctuary.
The pictures below show children from Picton school with the plants they have grown from seed gathered at Kaipupu Point. The seedlings have now been transferred to root trainers which are held in recycled styrofoam boxes gathered from the supermarkets. They have about 370 plants made up of karamu, manuka and flax. When these are ready they will be planted out by the children at Kaipupu Point to help with habitat regeneration and supply food for native species.
The take-home message for the students is that free from browsing pests, and kept clear of invasive weeds, the native bush will regenerate vigorously in the future, helped along by the native seedlings contributed by local schools. And with a thriving native bush, these students hope to turn back the clock and eventually hear a forest full of songs not heard in Picton in 100 years.