News and Events

Ethics, education, and eradication – Predator Free 2050 in schools – A. Palmer and S. Birdsall

August 29, 2023

A recently released research paper by Alexandra Palmer and Sally Birdsall (University of Auckland) set out to understand perspectives of educators and animal welfare advocates on predator education issues, seeking to answer:

  1. What is currently being taught about invasive predators, and what does this teaching involve?
  2. What do stakeholders believe is the best approach to teaching this subject, and why?

The research involved semi-structured interviews with teachers (primary and secondary levels), animal welfare advocates and education providers (from both government, and non-government organisations).

Related research by Alexandra Palmer explored the social and ethical challenges of Predator Free 2050, and was used in this paper’s discussion.

The researchers explored the purposes of teaching about invasive species and considered the different approaches being taken and the barriers to this teaching.

Three key themes arose from the interviews:

The rise of respect, children’s agency, and teaching in different contexts (te ao Māori, rural and urban environments, gender, age)


The research highlighted areas of widespread agreement as well as disagreement around predator control education, outlined in their Table 1.

Several next steps were proposed:

  • Research in the classroom to better understand how material is being delivered, and how children respond;
  • Research with a broader range of stakeholder e.g., students and parents/caregivers;
  • A nationwide survey to better understand how material is being taught and why, given evidence that trapping competitions and similar still take place to some extent;
  • Interviews with those who support trapping competitions and similar to understand the reasoning for this approach;
  • Development and testing of resources to support educators, e.g., training on how to deliver multiple perspectives and ensure a safe environment for children to raise their own ideas.

You can access the summary of this research here. AP&SB_research_summary

Ākonga in Enviroschools across our country are engaged with learning and action that monitors and addresses pests. They are encouraged to take a holistic approach to this, building an understanding of our Living Landscapes (past and present), about habitats as places to live and the concept of whenua being the land that nourishes life. Each Enviroschool is part of a local ecosystem and people value and change landscapes (including introducing plants and animals from other countries). Ākonga can then make informed decisions and consider the range of locally relevant approaches in co-creating and caring for healthy living landscapes.

Thank you to all those from our Enviroschools network that took time to engage with this research.