Park Status: Open
Education and the Awahuri Forest Kitchener Park Trust
The Awahuri Forest Trust identifies education as its primary and most vital purpose.
The Awahuri Forest is a diverse remnant of unique forest, wetland and stream that is very vulnerable to degradation. It is imperative that the wider community and especially the next generation and educators in the region work together to understand the elements that make up a healthy ecosystem community in order to preserve and improve the biodiversity of bush, stream and wetland for future generations.
The aim of the educator is:"To enhance an understanding of flora and fauna of the Awahuri Forest Kitchener Park and enable students and teachers to begin a range of learning activities." This is done primarily through supported visits to the Awahuri Forest. This typically involves a class or group of classes being guided through the area by experts covering a range of themes such as: birds, invertebrates, Te Ao Maori, Local Maori History, bush layers, stream, wetland etc. etc. The experts include Horizon educators/staff, local Iwi representatives or individuals recognised for their deep and special knowledge of the flora and fauna of this forest. In 2022 many schools and teachers and over 600 students are seeking to visit the Awahuri Forest.
There is a Trust Education Committee which supports the educator and assists in decision-making and finding the resources to achieve our goals.
The Awahuri Forest Trust educator is Linda Campbell. Linda is an experienced educator and was a local Principal for many years. Her passion for the outdoors is evident in her regular tramps to remote parts of New Zealand and her support for students doing Duke of Edinburgh who she assists to achieve outdoor knowledge and skills. She has a long history in Environmental Education and in the past she received an award from the Department of Conservation for her work in the protection of New Zealand’s natural heritage.
In recent years we have gathered feedback from students and adults when a school visit has occurred. Each feedback sheet handed in has been collated and analyzed. We are building up a picture of what visitors are interested in and how the visitor experience could be enhanced.
PDF of early collated feedback
Class teachers sought pre and post activities for their classes in early feedback and a pre visit resource guide and a post visit resource guide are currently being developed. The Awahuri Forest Educator has visited other educators in similar roles and is building a handy resource base to use by schools in Feilding and the surrounding area.
PDF of recent collated feedback
Initial feedback identified a need to include a karakia and greetings at the beginning and conclusion of the visit. Later feedback identified a wish by schools to contribute to the work being done by volunteers and contractors in the area. As a response to this frequent request for ways students could help enhance the understanding of the bush, stream, and flora and fauna the Education Committee has created a list of practical suggestions on how groups or individuals can help. (See below)
We have identified some key information gaps in our knowledge of the unique ecosystems at Awahuri Forest. We cannot do everything ourselves and we sometimes lack resources. We need the help of others to assist us in returning the bush/ngahere to its original biodiversity.
Here is a list of ideas we have currently formed, that schools, groups or individuals could help us with.
If you can help with these please let our Awahuri Forest Educator know.
The Awahuri Forest Trust Educator has developed a growing resource kit. This was obtained with support from the East Coast Powerlines Company for use by groups visiting the Awahuri Forest.
The kit contains identification references for a variety of birds, plants, invertebrates etc. and hands-on tools to explore further.
(Later photo of Kit with staff member from East Coast Powerline Company and Linda)
The Trust is seeking to extend its archive. We know that over many years much information has been gathered about and in the Park. If you have information or unpublished reports or early film images of the Park. Please get in touch with a Trustee or the Awahuri Forest Educator. We would like to better tell the story of this rescued remnant of lowland swarm forest.
Make bug hotels. Bug-ingham Palaces!