Bay of Plenty Experts Pool Knowledge to Engage Young People

| By Natalie Ridler, Enviroschools Regional Coordinator Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty Enviroschools became fully involved in our “Hands on Water” event and showed enthusiasm for taking this learning back to their classrooms. This annual event has been held at the idyllic Redwood Valley Farm near Paengaroa for almost a decade, and brings together 200 Students and teachers over 2 days. The event was a real success with a combination of great planning, wonderful weather, warm(ish) water and excellent engagement from participants. It was really great being able to get into the stream and enjoy the fun and benefits of hands-on learning!

Students carry out macro-invertebrate identification as part of expanding their knowledge of stream monitoring techniques.

Hands on Water is a truly collaborative event and in 2019 welcomed community partners such as city and district councils, local care groups, Department of Conservation, NZ Landcare Trust and Emergency Management Bay of Plenty. Activity stations were also run by volunteers from our science, coastal, and maritime teams, offering attending schools a diverse and fun range of activities to participate in, and highlighting just how complex and varied the uses, science and management of freshwater are. The focus of each activity station is to allow students (and teachers) the opportunity to learn in a practical way, whether it be measuring the velocity of a stream using a measuring tape and orange, using a wastewater simulation model, or collecting bugs from the stream and using a magnifying glass to identify and classify them. Each activity station also shares key messages for students to share with their peers and families, be it tips on conserving water or how to use natural indicators to find out how healthy a waterway might be.


Activities that the children experienced included using a clarity tube to check how clear the water was. Bay of Plenty Regional Council loans out fully-equipped water testing kits to local schools free of charge so that they can explore water monitoring in their own local settings throughout the year. Students also experienced simulating a fish passage.


Feedback from our teachers:

“Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Thank you for hosting our tamariki and pouako who thoroughly enjoyed the day.   They were out today testing some of our creeks and rivers.”

The students shared their learning at our school assembly.  They stated that they learnt about:

  • Creatures in the rocky shore and how they have adapted.
  • How to measure water flow and clarity
  • How to catch bugs in the water
  • How to create safe passageways for fish and eel
  • Tikanga Māori about the earth, creation, ancestors and water
  • How to filter sewage and turn it into drinking water
  • What the regional council is responsible for.”

“Thank you for organising a wonderful learning experience for our students. The day was well organised, well-pitched for year 5 & 6 and your facilitators were fantastic with the students. The hands-on activities were varied and interesting. The length of time was also just right, not too long at an activity.


It was my first time to the Water Expo, and I highly recommend it to any teachers able to attend, as a great experience for them as well. So, thank you again and please pass on St Mary’s thanks to all the helpers and facilitators.”

Banner Photo: Hemi O’Callaghan teaches students about kaitiakitanga.