National | Education

Wellington snorkel days to encourage kaitiakitanga

Mountains to Sea Wellington is helping people take the plunge to learn about marine conservation by snorkelling marine reserves. The group is also building up young kids to be the next generation of ocean guardians.

Mountains to Sea Wellington Director Zoe Studd says "that's the whole purpose of our charitable trust is to create Kaitiaki (guardians) for our rivers, harbours and coasts and that's the really fundamental bit for us about providing these experiences so that people feel they have that sense of connection."

The group also runs in-school marine protection programmes at low to no cost to encourage youth to drive their own marine conservation projects.

Studd says "that might be litter collection, storm water drain programmes, we've had kids do marine monitoring and look at what biodiversity changes have been happening in the reserve. So there is a whole wealth of different things that they can do whether that be inside or outside the reserves.”

There is a cost for the Summer Splash Mob Snorkel programmes run by the group this summer which covers wetsuit, fin and mask hire, but the funds raised go towards free snorkelling workshops for other kids.

Studd says "we take a lot of kids who would otherwise never get this experience, we get a lot of children who might live in an area where there isn't a marine reserve or they've never had the opportunity to go snorkelling before and when they jump in and their first experience of having fish swim up to them and seeing octopus and seahorses, they're blown away."

The next free community snorkel day is at Tapu Te Ranga marine reserve January 26.