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18 September 2015 | Environment

Northland schools travel south for a wild education

Auckland Zoo is welcoming its first Northland School today as part of the Warehouse Zoofari programme, giving more young Kiwi kids the chance to engage in a wildlife education and experience a day and night at the Zoo.



Students, teachers and parents from Kaikohe’s Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Tonga o Hokianga and Kaitaia’s Kaingaroa School will venture through the Zoo’s Te Wao Nui precinct, home to over 50 different New Zealand native species in habitats from the forest and high country to wetlands and sanctuary islands. The students will have the opportunity to see everything from tuatara, kaka, kukupa, kea, long-fin eels, skinks and geckos and learn all about what makes these taonga unique.

Auckland Zoo team leader of Schools Programmes, Laura Rayner, says the opportunity to meet the animals is an exciting encounter for the pupils.

"It provides a really positive experience for them to apply their scientific learning to a real life situation and learn how to observe the animals and discover what they are doing and why."

The Warehouse School Zoofari is an innovative three-year partnership between Auckland Zoo and The Warehouse Auckland and Northland, with support from Ritchies Transport, which assists children from low-decile schools in the Auckland and Northland regions to experience conservation-based learning programmes at Auckland Zoo.

Each trip is unique with the Zoo tailoring the lessons to what has recently been taught in class.

The majority of the children have never seen the animals in real life which leads "to some big smiling faces" says Rayner.

"When these young kids first step off the buses they are literally buzzing and beaming with excitement. Then once they’re in the Zoo we get to see their pure delight at coming so close to the animals - it’s wonderful to see."

Over $62K was raised in The Warehouse’s Auckland and Northland stores in January 2015 to assist with the costs of learning sessions at Auckland Zoo.

Auckland Zoo education experiences are Ministry of Education certified, and every Zoofari session is facilitated by an Auckland Zoo educator in partnership with teachers to ensure integration into the school curriculum.

Other schools taking part in the Northland Warehouse School Zoofari proramme are Kawakawa Ohaeawai and Karetu from Kaikohe, as well as TKKM o Rawhitiroa from Whangarei and Waiotira Pakotai Manaia from Dargaville.

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