He Awa Ora, Healthy Rivers
He Awa Ora, Healthy Rivers is a holistic science based project that aims to improve the understanding, appreciation and management of our freshwater environments.
He Awa Ora currently provides Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom (LEOTC) utilising our freshwater environments and associated water catchments as multi-curricular learning contexts. This learning is frequently combined with the development of school, community and hapu environmental monitoring programs, and freshwater restoration and enhancement initiatives.
He Awa Ora LEOTC programs typically involve:
- A planning meeting with teachers and interested parties to outline what we can do, identify a particular focus for the work, and tailor a program accordingly
- A classroom session with teachers and students looking at water safety, freshwater ecology, and local geology, climate and catchment land use
- A visit to a local stream or wetland to perform an assessment of the waterways health - this includes some water chemistry but especially looks at the life in the waterway and what this tells us about its health
- A visit to a ‘reference’ or ‘un-impacted’ waterway for comparison
- Recording the data and analysing the findings
- An assessment of the relationship between waterways condition, geophysical characteristics (eg geology and climate) and catchment land use (eg farming, forestry, urbanisation)
- Students presenting their findings to their peers and in community forums
- The development of plans for the monitoring, restoration and/or enhancement of the local waterways.
He Awa Ora programs are able to be delivered at all levels from junior to Year 13 and Tertiary, providing a range of learning opportunities for younger students, and also more specific (e.g. NCEA) resources for secondary levels. Delivery of the program is free to registered primary, interrmediate and secondary schools and kura kaupapa Maori.
Tools employed draw from:
- GLOBE Freshwater protocols www.globe.gov/web/hydrology/overview
- Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit (SHMAK) www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/freshwater/tools/shmak
- Cultural Health Index www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/cultural-health-index-for-streams-and-waterways-tech-report
- Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality 2000 http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/anzecc-water-quality-guide
- Whitebait Connection http://www.whitebaitconnection.co.nz/
- WaiCare http://www.waicare.org.nz