Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Freyberg GATE 2013

This year the Freyberg GATE team is going to be investigating issues facing the Manawatu River. Our river has been described as "one of the most polluted in the western world". Some support this claim and others fiercely dispute it. Before starting to think about the issues I'd be interested in hearing what the river means to you.

For me personally, I live in Aokautere and I am able to walk across a couple of paddocks to enjoy the river, usually for swims on a hot day with my family. I sometimes wonder if the river is safe to swim in, given what I've read and I'm not 100% sure but it doesn't stop me going in. That said, I'd love to be able to swim in it and be confident it was healthy to swim in. Another important place for me with the river is the Manawatu Estuary. I spend lots of hours down here each year following the coming and going our of migratory shorebirds and the other species that make the estuary their home. It's a pretty amazing place that sometimes needs a closer look to be appreciated - don't get put off by it just looking like mudflats, it is a RAMSAR site for a good reason.

So, how about you?

Monday, June 25, 2012



Hand on hand

Side by side

Foot by foot

Mud and slides

Sky and sea

Connections are found

Wild and life

Kids run around

Survival and strife

Birds call

Nature sounds

Trees rustle

Connections found

Tides swell

Rocks stand

People gather

Leaves fall

Trunks sway










by Jasmine

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bird kingdom

They may not be a man's best friend but the birds of Aotearoa colour our landscape with song and beauty.

What are our legs compared to their wings? 

What is our music compared to their songs? 

How can we connect with creatures so different from us?

What better place to answer these questions than Kapiti Island off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s a magical place. It’s a bird kingdom. The birds swoop down below the canopy of beautiful trees, and then soar above the tree tops. Nothing can touch them, it’s one of the only places where they are free from all harm. When you enter the forest the bush envelopes you and birdsong weaves you into it’s mysterious world. The birds have nothing to fear, they fly free and they do what they please. Only the wind and the mist from the sea can disturb their tranquility, until we enter their lounge. We come hoping to join their community but in fear of frightening them out of their home. Yet fearlessly they remain and let us be a part of the magic that is the tapestry of Aotearoa as it should be.

Kapiti Island

by Josie

I hear the roar of the traffic and voices yelling in all directions.

I smell exhaust and greasy fish’n’chips wrappers.

I feel the hard concrete beneath my feet and the cold walls of tall buildings.

I see grey roads stretching off into the distance,

litter lining the street gutters,

and buildings blocking the horizon.

Then I went to Kapiti Island.

I hear the whirr of the stitchbird’s wings, the breeze rustling in the trees and the symphony of birdsong.

I smell the fresh air and the salty breeze by the shore.

I feel the kaka’s sharp claws as it lands on my shoulder and the muddy earth sliding beneath my feet.

I see green growing everywhere,

vines tangling themselves up in trees,

 a sneaky weka stealing a banana,

and shining paua shells washed up on the shore.

This is what Aotearoa would have once been like.

It’s only by making connections with our land now that is going to make us care enough to save it for the future.

By Johanna

The Kaka

The Kaka

Wings widespread,

Swooning, Circulating .

Surveying prey of cracker crumbs and un-open bags.

Gliding, soaring,

All around us, hoping for a generous face.

Dive bombing, Heart pulsating,

The connection is made, as he stares longingly at me,

Fear spreads throughout my body.

One Glance.

Harmless, Denfensless,

All he wants is a gentle soul to love him,

His delicate body lands on a branch.


Found deep within the forest walls,
All from the Kaka

by Robyn

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kapiti Island Trip

The Freyberg GATE had a great day out at Kapiti Island recently. Hannah was a bit pale-faced on the boat journey over but everyone made it to the shore in good spirits, ready to tackle the tramp to the summit.

After a talk by the ranger we headed off uphill, entertained by the cheeky weka to start with and encountering a range of birdlife en route. The highlight being at the bird feeder below the summeit where an small army of bellbirds were scraping and trying to get to the feeder alongside two stitchbirds who snuck back and forward to feed admist the ruckus. While watching we were also joined by an inquisitive kaka who proceeded to bounce across our shoulders providing a very close encounter. We then continued to the summit for fantastic views across to the South Island.

After descending back we again enjoyed the company of an inquisitive weka while we sat and reflected on the advantages and disadvantages of an island sanctuary and also our connections with the land. For me, being able to experience close up such amazing bush and the birdlife that thrives within is a real privilege. I am aware had big an impact humans have had on such a fragile environment and the responsibility we have to care for what we have left. Kapiti is just one important part of these efforts. I love you to share your impressions of the trip and particularly the "connections" piece you ended up writing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thumbs up to our Minister of Conservation!

Pretty pleased to start seeing the responses to Freyberg GATE students letters and emails starting to arrive. Most impressive to date was the five page response from Minister of Conservation, Hon Kate Wilkinson. Loved the way she addressed each of the questions put to her and suggested further lines of inquiry. Plenty of food for thought. Thanks Minister!

Comment on any further responses you've had...