Over the past two terms we have become the kaitiaki (guardians) of two very important rat traps. These were gifted to us by Dai Morgan, through the Parihaka Community Landcare and we have placed them in different parts of Parihaka, which is where we run our Nature Programme. The children of Mairtown carefully decorated the traps before we took them into the bush so they were easily identifiable as the ones that we were looking after.
On the Parihaka Community Landcare Facebook page they state that, “We are a community volunteer group helping to protect native species in Parihaka by reducing pest populations.”
We feel very privileged that the children of Mairtown Kindergarten who attend our Nature Programme get to see first hand the efforts of trapping rats.
From the very beginning of this process the children knew and expressed a lot of knowledge of why we needed to kill rats in our local Ngahere.
“You know rats are not good, they are bad. They kill baby birds.” (Ezra)
“Yeah they also eat the eggs and when the rats kill the birds and eat the eggs that means that we might not have more birds in our places.” (Juno)
The conversations around rats and the plot to trap them has flowed into the kindergarten space. This has created opportunities for our Nature Programme children to share their understanding on this subject of conservation with other children.
Each week when we enter the bush one of the first things that we do is check the traps. If they have not gone off, we re-bait and if they have caught a rat, well that is where the real excitement begins. What I particularly like about this rat trapping initiative is how the children have taken such great ownership of the task. They clearly have a deep sense of responsibility as they rush to where the trap was last baited and eagerly await to see if there is a dead rat inside.
Now, as to date, we have only caught two rats and these were very exciting moments. On the first occasion it had been a hot summery week leading up to its discovery and to say that the rat was smelly was an understatement. The children watched on as poor Amy had the task of getting the rat out. After much discussion it was decided that the best way to dispose of the rat body was to bury it. The children, with support, chose a place that would not disturb the roots of the trees and where they could dig a fairly deep hole to place the rat in.
“This is really going to make me have a spew!”
“The rat was alive, now it is dead. So we buried it.” (Felix)
Our kindergarten is on the Enviroschools journey and this is just one of the many ways that we incorporate its kaupapa into our programme. Every pest caught is of benefit to our native species and we love that the children at Mairtown Kindergarten can have such a rich and meaningful learning experiences in regards to this.
One part of the Enviroschools kaupapa is 'Identifying and Strengthening Community Partnerships/ Mahi Ngātahi’
and they state that, "Your centre (or kindergarten) is part of an eco-system, and creating a sustainable centre involves developing projects and practices that support the whole living system around you. To work in this holistic way, it is necessary to bring together a range of different insights and skills. Genuine partnerships involve identifying shared goals and appreciating particular skills, resources and expertise that different groups and people can offer. Link up with others in your area that are working towards a more sustainable environment in areas such as health, conservation, cultural or community development."
Our children are learning so much about the importance of pest management, as well as contributing to our local community in a very relevant and meaningful way. We love that this is now a part of our Nature Programme’s rituals every week and can’t wait to catch more pests in Parihaka.
Thank you to Dai Morgan, Parihaka Community Landcare and the Northland Regional Council for having such a great initiative in place. If you would like to know more about how you can be involved in programmes like this check out their Facebook page (Click Here).