Tauranga Moana growing biosecurity champions

The Tiakina Taiao programme

Teaching children about local biosecurity issues and the techniques being used to combat them is the goal of  ‘Tiakina Taiao’, Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital’s educational programme focussed on growing young biosecurity champions across the region. 

Developed by Kia Maia Ellis, the one day programme is being delivered to eight schools across Tauranga, using nature as the classroom to give children the tools they need to protect our environment. 

“As Māori our tūpuna (ancestors) cared for these resources for us to hand down to our mokopuna (grandchildren), so as kaitiaki (guardians) in Tauranga Moana we need to participate and be more proactive in taking care of our taonga (treasure),” says Kia Maia.

Each school selects ten children to champion biosecurity and attend the programme which uses a combination of western science and mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge).  Activities include learning how to find and identify the Asian paddle crab, learning about marine trapping methods, and surveillance techniques that are being used to protect our harbour from biosecurity incursions. 

Other activities include taking a walk through the forest to learn about a variety of identification techniques and pest control traps.  The children will also learn about how to identify myrtle rust and which trees this air-borne disease affects. 

Carlton Bidois, Co-Chair of TMBC says this programme is an important collaboration between hapū, industry, councils, government and education. “We’ve got a region of people and organisations who are committed to developing the next generation of biosecurity champions and are willing to support us to do this, it’s a great example of how Tauranga Moana is leading the way in biosecurity,” says Carlton. 

“We are fortunate enough to live in this beautiful paradise and we need recognise that it takes all of us to protect it from pests and disease.”