Getting your child involved in conservation

September 07 2018

NZ Conservation week is coming up this month, offering plenty of ways to foster a strong conservation ethic in our kids.

Why is it important to get children involved in conservation?

We all want our kids to develop a sense of empathy. Learning to love nature encourages that. It builds nurturing skills, and it also gives our little ones a sense of purpose, a mission – a direction. It makes them feel like they are part of a movement. They’ll feel a surge of patriotism, perhaps – they will know that they belong to this place.

And when people care about something, they are more likely to look after it.

Because we are the caretakers of this land, children need to learn the responsibilities of kaitiakitanga.

And quite apart from all that personal development…it’s important because our beautiful backyard desperately needs us to stand up for it.

Did you know that New Zealand actually has close to 4000 species that are endangered, and many of them critically?

Lets just take a minute to think about that… FOUR THOUSAND of our native species could soon be gone. Forever.

The term ‘a crying shame’ could not be more apt here. It is heart-breaking to think of losing even one more native bird species (oh, huia. I am so sorry). And it is shameful that with all the knowledge we now have, with the resources available at our finger tips, that more is not being done to ensure not a bat, a lizard, a freshwater fish is lost.

So what can we do to get our children interested? Get them involved. Here are some ideas for kiwi kids all year round:

  • Become a member of Forest & Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC). For a nominal fee, your child will receive Wild Things magazine, be invited to volunteer days and events, and can take part in projects, challenges, competitions and much more. Find out more here.
  • Help your kid learn the true meaning of kaitiakitanga by taking part in DoC’s Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme. It’s free, and encourages learning about nature, earning cool rewards, and going on epic family challenges. Find out more here.
  • Take your child to visit open sanctuaries such as Maungatautari Mountain in the Waikato, Pukaha Mt Bruce in the Wairarapa, Tiri Tiri Matangi Island and Tawharanui Regional Park near Auckland, Kapiti Island, Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin… fortunately, there are LOTS of these extremely important projects all over the country now. For a full list of sanctuaries and to find one near you, click here.
  • Keep an eye on Forest & Bird and DoC websites and social media pages to be ‘in the know’ about bird releases that are open to the public. We’ve been along to three kiwi releases now – an unforgettable experience for your child.
  • Think about installing a GoodNature rat trap in your backyard, or join their part ownership scheme. Download the app and you’ll get a notification every time your trap has eliminated another pest! It’s a fun, educational, and practical way to involve your child in ‘doing their bit’. Find out more here.
  • Many regional parks hold regular tree planting days – get your gumboots on and get your kid along!
  • EMR (Experiencing Marine Reserves) educate, increase awareness, and encourage and support marine conservation. They run many programmes throughout the country. Get your child involved in one of their guided snorkel experiences (many of which are free!) Check out their website here.
  • Go and help at a local community beach, river, or park clean up – or better still, organise your own!
  • Ensure your child adopts a Reduce, Re-use, Recycle mindset. There are some great ways to get children thinking about a waste-free, sustainable NZ at

And finally, in September every year the Department of Conservation presents Conservation Week, shining a spotlight on what needs to be done (A LOT!) and running events to get you all involved. There are some seriously cool things happening all through the country! Guided Ranger Walks, Biodiversity Talks, Sustainability Markets, Predator Trapping Workshops, Beach and Lakeside Cleanups, Preschool Library Sessions, Nature Tours, Mountain Film Festivals, Marine Reserve Experiences…you name it! Have a look at the extensive list of things you can attend here.

Are you going to any of the events? Have you got any further ideas or tips? I’d love you to leave a comment!