Updated: May 19, 2020
At first you might have wondered what was happening. A gathering of children wearing high vis vests, bent over the beach painstakingly searching for something amongst the sand and shells. On closer inspection, you see an area marked out with flags, a length of 100 metres along the high tide mark and 10 metres up and down the beach from there.
This is what you would have noticed if you walked past Taumanu Reserve on Monday February 17 or the Māngere Boating Club Beach on Friday February 14. Students from schools in our Kāhui Ako were participating in a Litter Intelligence Beach Audit in partnership with Sustainable Coastlines. This is a NZ charity whose mission is to enable people to look after the coastlines and waterways that they love. Our schools have committed to regularly clean and audit litter from our two local beaches. Students pick up all the litter in the marked area, then return to school to audit everything - sort, collate, count and weigh, then enter into a national database. This data is being used in our schools to support student inquiry.
So why are our students doing this?
As a Kāhui Ako, we have recognised that place is crucial to our identity and sense of belonging as a community of schools. The physical environment in which we live grounds us in our community and connects us with the history of those who have come before us. Key physical features that frame our community are our two maunga: Te Pane o Mataoho (Māngere mountain) and Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), together with Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa (Manukau Harbour). By collaborating on projects linked with the Manukau Harbour, we provide opportunities for our students to connect with our moana with its cultural significance to mana whenua. And then, by becoming kaitiaki of our moana, our students will discover ways to restore it and protect it for future generations. In this way, students will develop their agency and efficacy in being able to make a difference in and for their local community - building greater confidence in being able to affect positive change.
In sum: the wellbeing of our students will be enhanced as students learn to first connect with, and then act, to enhance the wellbeing of our moana. This is the mutual restorative effect: healing the harbour and healing each other. A wellbeing boost so students can achieve success in their learning.
A big shout out to students from Māngere Bridge School and Waterlea School for undertaking our recent audit of Māngere Boating Club Beach (together with support from senior students from Onehunga High School). They were joined by tamariki from Māngere Bridge Kindergarten who actively participated in the audit alongside the primary school students. Also to students from Royal Oak Primary School for your awesome mahi at Taumanu Beach. We are excited about continuing this work during the year and exploring how our students can continue to act as kaitiaki of Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa.