Going batty for conservation: Telling stories of taonga species

  • Published Date 21 Jun 2024
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Kāpiti kaiako and event facilitators (left to right) Sharlene Maoate-Davis, Anna Bailey, Alicia Rangi-Bloomfield, Amanda Dobson
Kāpiti kaiako and event facilitators (left to right) Sharlene Maoate-Davis, Anna Bailey, Alicia Rangi-Bloomfield, Amanda Dobson
Kaiako Sharlene Maoate-Davis with tamariki from Raumati South Kindergarten
Kaiako Sharlene Maoate-Davis with tamariki from Raumati South Kindergarten

Kāpiti tamariki were given a unique look into the special pirinoa (symbiotic) relationship between one of our native bats and a special plant at a recent three-day event hosted by Enviroschools, mana whenua and a local puppeteer at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve.

Pekapeka tou poto (short-tailed bat) and Pua o Te Reinga (Dactylanthus taylorii) are endangered species that rely on each other to thrive; the plant feeds the bat with its nectar, and pekapeka tou poto pollinates the plant in return.

The event was inspired by a lively puppet show, ‘Flutter’, and a guided walk through the old forest at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve. Puppeteer Anna Bailey says ‘Flutter’ was born out of her love and fascination with the short-tailed bat.

“I am passionate about telling stories about our lesser-known taonga species, to help build awareness and connection with a species that people may not encounter, and to start a conversation about how we might protect them,” says Bailey.

“The arts play an important role in environmental education – performance and visual storytelling creates a way for tamariki to engage with and be inspired by the world around them.”

Mana whenua representative Sharlene Maoate-Davis (Taranaki, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Wehiwehi, Ngāti Huia, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngai Tahu) guided the early childhood and primary school groups through the ngahere (bush) of the Ngā Manu Nature reserve, telling pūrakau (stories) which were complimented by the scientific knowledge of Ngā Manu Reserve Supervisor Rhys Mills. 

Kāpiti Enviroschools community facilitator Amanda Dobson says the event emphasised the value of place-based learning and a locally developed curriculum, which incorporated mātauranga Māori; hosting the event during the Whiro moon phase and utilising taonga pūoro (musical instruments).

“A core value of the Enviroschools programme is to foster a connection between tamariki and te taiao – the natural world.

“The puppet show provided a rich learning experience that could be expanded upon with a guided walk in the old stand of forest, where tamariki could view the Pua o Te Reinga populations first-hand.

“Events like this help our young learners understand the importance of conservation and the interconnectedness of ecosystems – helping one species often means we help many more." 

Avlene Tawhara, a kaiako at Paraparaumu school says the experience was invaluable for their tamariki. 

“This haerenga to Ngā Manu Nature Reserve was invaluable for our tamariki of Te Whānau Kōtuku, being able to enter into the ngahere, touch and smell the living elements was bringing the theory of classroom learning into the real world around us.

“It was also very special listening to the pūrakau  from Whaea Sharlene, hearing the stories of our tupuna.” 

Dobson says collaborative, nature-inspired learning brings Mauri Tūhono - the Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui Regional Biodiversity Framework to life. 

This Enviroschools event was supported by Greater Wellington and Kāpiti Coast District Council, and the Flutter show was developed with the support of the Performing Arts Foundation. 

Kāpiti tamariki
Kāpiti tamariki
Updated July 11, 2024 at 4:14 PM

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