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Adventure into the forest at Auckland Environmental Expo

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Eye on Nature takes children and their families on an experiential journey through our native New Zealand forest, learning how the health of the forest and all its inhabitants impacts the health of us all.

After the annual event was cancelled in April 2018 due to extreme weather, organisers from the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust (MBCT) have dedicated time to ramp up the event for thousands of school children and families to enjoy this year. With the overall vision 'to plant a seed and grow a young mind’ this event will focus on the theme ‘Healthy Trees, Healthy Me, Hauora Rākau, Hauora Ahau’.

Visitors will leave the outdoor environmental expo with an understanding of the key role our forest plays in combatting pollution and climate change, as well as the ecosystems, biodiversity and interdependence within the forest community, and human influence on these. Children will learn how to identify risks to the forest in their own school and community and the importance of being an environmental leader in the restoration or protection of their local bush.

Eye on Nature school days 26-28 March 2019 see close to 1500 school children immersed in Totara Forest at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Children aged 9-10 from South and East Auckland primary schools, many of whom have little experience of being in nature, will become sleuth forest detectives! They will spend their time with passionate environmental educators who will guide them through a series of investigative activities within the forest.

This age is the key time in childhood for the development of a child’s relationship with the natural world. Eye on Nature gives children experiential and action-based opportunities that will shape their attitudes and behaviours in adulthood. We are helping children to become environmental stakeholders or kaitiaki of the natural world.

The children will put their detective skills to use during their time in the forest, while being introduced to the concept of ‘forest bathing’. Healthy trees, Healthy Me promotes the health benefits of being in the forest. Children will be actively encouraged to reflect on their mental and emotional wellbeing after their time in the forest at Eye on Nature.

Other activities will allow children time to explore and measure the biodiversity of Totara Park as they count the native bird life in the forest, measure the health of the forest through the investigation of the fungus and bug life, as well as learning that trees are part of whakapapa (connections and ancestry) links to animals, people and the environment. the role and use of the native trees for Maori people, past and present.

Eye on Nature culminates in a free Family Day on Saturday 30 March 2019, 11am-5pm. Open to the public and at no cost, the Family Day will present a myriad of events and activities to entertain and educate young minds. The aim of the family day is to wrap up the learnings of the school days and engage parents and communities members too.

"At this year's Eye on Nature we want to highlight the importance of caring for our forests because they are vital to our lives and the natural systems that sustain us. Through the fun activities we have planned children and families will learn just this, even in an urban environment," explains Barbara Carney, MBCT Community Manager.

During the Family Day, budding chefs will demonstrate their skills in the cooking competition, with high school students competing 'MasterChef' style watched-on by the judges and public. School children will show their creativity with a creative arts competition based on ‘Friend or Foe’. The Eye on Nature competitions are open to schools Auckland wide.

An activity for every age; including guest speaker, Riki Bennett who will navigate the bush as a Maori storyteller and environmentalist, and show visitors how to discover and identify native trees and the special uses for them in navigation, construction, food and medicine.

Plus, build your own pest tracking system to discover what pests animals are threatening the forest in your community; snap a picture with Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff; receive the tools to make a pledge to become sustainable in one area of your life; learn how be a part of Predator Free 2020; come along and learn how to up cycle T-shirts; watch cooking demonstrations; support cultural performances; and learn all about how a healthy tree means a healthy you!

Over 40 Environmental organisations from around New Zealand including, DOC, Air New Zealand, Sustainable Coastlines, Auckland Council Libraries, Biodiversity, Sustainable Schools and Waste Departments, The Roots Creative, Forest and Bird and Healthy Families are partnering with MBCT to host this event, with financial support from the six Auckland Southern Local Boards and the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Eye on Nature Family Day 2019 Quick Information:

Where: Auckland Botanic Gardens, Manurewa, Auckland (Entry via Everglade Drive).

When: Saturday 30 March 2019

Timings: 11AM - 5PM

Facebook Events Page: www.facebook.com/events/1017234621796245/

Cost: Free - Includes entertainments, hands-on arts and crafts, games, and prizes.

Food Vendors: Eye on Nature is proud to be a zero waste and water only event. A small selection of local food vendors will be at Eye on Nature. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic.

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