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Karamu High School students trap rats

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Armed with traps and plenty of peanut butter, a group of Karamu High School students have begun rat trapping along the Karamu Stream. What began as a discussion on ethics amongst students in Damien Hollands’ science class, quickly turned into a collaborative biodiversity and biosecurity project with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Twenty traps, donated by the council, were set by students who will now check them twice a month.

Mr Hollands, also Deputy Principal Staff and Administration, says students were able to use the scientific process but with a practical outcome. "As part of the scientific process the initial trips included testing, looking for evidence of activity, food sources and setting indicator baits before finding the ideal areas for setting the traps." The majority of students enjoyed the experience, and some are keen to continue. "It’s about getting students, who working indoors isn’t their ideal thing, to experience projects outside of the classroom and outdoors." It also encourages an alternative pathway for students and opens their eyes to possibilities after school. "With the goals of predator free 2050 it will rely on both government and community working together to make it a successful goal."

Intertwined in the project was an element of physical education whereby students had the choice of cycling on bikes donated by Sport Hawke’s Bay through the TÅ« Manawa Active Aotearoa fund. "We made use of the bikes for their physical exercise and wellbeing. We first learnt cycle safety at school before a ride to and from the stream," Mr Hollands says. On Friday, they put all their newly learnt skills to the test, cycling the 1km route to and from school, and spending several hours installing the traps. Hawke's Bay Regional Council Biosecurity Biodiversity Advisor Nathan Alexander says rat control is important for protecting native fauna and flora and brings the students closer to nature.

"Doing pest control is really important, especially in areas that people have a connection to that's close to where they live, or go to school or work, and it enhances the natural biodiversity of the area.

"I think it's great that kids get to see this and understand that pest control is a necessary part of making New Zealand a better place to live for us and for our native ecosystems."

Year 9 student Meihana Osbourne-Seymour was in his element as he regularly installs rat traps around his family home. He says he enjoys being outside and learning new skills.

Next year, they plan to integrate the programme into the Duke of Edinburgh's Service Award, where students across year levels can partake. Principal Dionne Thomas says it is a fantastic example of incorporating what is learnt in the classroom and putting it to use in the wider community.

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