The opportunity to visit the Chatham Islands in a youth engagement and education capacity for Environment Canterbury was one I couldn’t turn down, despite my fear of ﬂying that comes from original trips to the Island on the Bristol Freighter many years ago.
I was invited to join members of the Environment Canterbury biosecurity team; Steve Palmer, Jemma Hippolite and Terry Charles.
Reconnecting with the locals
It was the trip of a lifetime for me. Having lived on the Island during the ‘boom years’ (the crayfishing boom of the late 60s/early 70s), it was wonderful to reconnect with people who remembered my family, and in downtime, wander the old haunts, retracing my horseback rides to school (which is now closed), beach combing and exploring the rockpools in front of our old family home right on the beachfront near Owenga.
Coincidently as our team arrived on the Island there was a suspected rat find on Pitt Island where there are currently no rats. Kerri and Moki were ferried to Pitt Island to investigate and to everyone’s relief, it was found to be a large mouse.
The school is in a lovely setting, a stone’s throw from coastal dunes and abundant rock pools. The students gave me a guided tour of their grounds, sharing the environmental initiatives and sustainable practices they incorporate into school life. I was impressed by their pride in their heritage and strong connections with this.
They have established firm links with the kaupapa of Enviroschools. Very recently, the principal, students and parents visited Environment Canterbury in Christchurch to reflect at achieving bronze status on their Enviroschools journey; I was pleased to be able to share in their success.