Raglan Area School Y12 students participating in Karioi Project’s NCEA Manaaki Ao programme got to share their ecological endeavours with Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.
The unexpected encounter with the minister happened at Xtreme Zero Waste when the students were preparing possums they had trapped.
Suso Sherlock, 17, Tehaeata Simek, 16, Breanna Griffin-Selwyn, 16, Merehia Williams-Hutchins, 16 and Moneisha Anderson, 16, were unaware of who they were actually meeting.
“We just bumped into her when we finished trapping. She was touching the possum fur and it was flying away and I said ‘that’s $5 please’,” Merehia says.
The young conservationists have a goal to earn $2500 selling the fur they hand pluck from possums they trap around the bush block at the back of Xtreme Zero Waste.
Their motto, conceived by Suso, is to protect the environment one trap at a time and they’ve worked out they need to trap close to 400 possums to reach their goal.
Once they realised who they were meeting they took the opportunity to tell the minister about the programme which aims to develop skills in sustainable and ecological actions and enabling them to earn NCEA credits through hands-on practical conservation activities.
“It felt cool when we found out she was important,” Merehia says.
Sage is also Associate Environment Minister and was in Raglan to announce a grant of $528,000 for marae-based Para Kore programme. She took time out to pop into Xtreme Zero Waste catching up with the Manaaki Ao students who do their practical study there on a Friday.
Tutors Duncan Mackay, Annie Lorenzen and Angela Prain – helped by Anne Windust and other Karioi instructors – run the outdoor classroom and introduce the students to a variety of local environmental issues, and initiate and develop sustainable solutions, such as the possum trapping, to address the issues facing their generation.