New anti-litter mascot a hit with students

Issue: Volume 97, Number 9

Posted: 23 May 2018
Reference #: 1H9iuz

A new environmental awareness initiative has generated a new star, Kiki Kiwi, if the enthusiastic reactions of students are anything to go by.

Hauraki School students Ryan, Libby and Imogen with the school's water tanks which feed into the nearby vegetable garden

The students of Hauraki and Oratia schools, both of which have strong environmental education programmes, were delighted by the recent visits of Kiki Kiwi, a mascot of not-for-profit organisation Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB).

As part of an upcoming anti-litter teaching resource for schools, Kiki Kiwi is helping to deliver the key messages to ‘Litter Less’ and ‘Do the Right Thing’ and contribute to ongoing awareness about the need for sustainability and environmental protection.

Sustainability challenges are on the rise, particularly in areas with rapid growth, such as Auckland, and both Oratia and Hauraki schools are responding to those challenges in ways that reflect their immediate environments.

Hauraki School

Hauraki School in Takapuna sits very close to urban beaches with intense development such as Devonport and Takapuna, as well as the waters of Auckland Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, so the role of water in helping to maintain sustainable coastlines is at the heart of its environmental programmes.

As an inquiry unit, students are examining water, its properties and ways to prevent flooding by design. The aim is to make students aware of the complex role that water and the water cycle plays in the environment, but also to spread awareness amongst their families and the wider community.

They are working with environmental scientists on a number of projects that will help to protect the local ecosystem, particularly on improving water quality in streams and beaches.

Teacher Elizabeth Smuts says scientists from Auckland Council have been helping students with their learnings about the properties of water, the water cycle, ways to prevent flooding, the various types of water and the significance of water to Māori. Students have also studied filtering systems and designed and built one of their own at the school, which incorporates two water tanks.

The tanks are linked to a study of edible gardens and are used to water the school’s vegetable garden.

Principal Clarinda Franklin says the programmes that connect are locally based and the most valuable learning is how precious water is as part of a sustainable future, and the importance of not wasting it.

“One syndicate did a beach clean-up last year, and another student group looked at threatened shorebirds and created an artwork installation using dozens of bird figures in a Devonport park to raise community awareness of the issues that birds are facing.”

Year 6 students are conducting a future problem-solving exercise involving a study of toxic materials that are common in everyday things like cosmetics, paints and cleaners, and how they are being linked to ill health. They are studying the impacts of 12 different toxins.

Clarinda says many parents have commented on the students’ high levels of engagement in, and excitement about, their environmental studies, and parents were invited to the opening of the second water tank.

Oratia School

Across the other side of the city, in west Auckland, Oratia School’s environmental work is focused on recycling and encouraging students to share their learnings with their own families to cut down on waste.

Oratia School lies close to the Waitakere Ranges, an area where the community has long been committed to recycling and sustainability, and the school’s environmental education programme reflects that.

Last year, waste was the focus at this Enviroschool, and the studies began with a audit of rubbish in the school grounds.

Years 3-4 (Arawhata) and the Years 4-6 enviro team learnt about zero waste and visited the council-run Zero Waste Zone in nearby Henderson to get inspiration from the hands-on learning centre, which demonstrates ways to think of waste as a resource and work towards zero waste to landfills by 2040.

These initiatives are part of science and social science components of The New Zealand Curriculum and students are encouraged to apply what they learn in their homes to help spark change across the community.

The subjects studied include how to create litterless lunchboxes, composting, worm farming and the use of Bokashi for food recycling. Some students collected soft plastic wrapping that had come from family supermarket shopping and took the material back to supermarkets for reuse.

Lead environment teacher Kelly Larnach says Clean Up Day was a huge success and her team’s focus is now on embedding the learning of the middle school throughout the school.

“The students are slowly getting parents’ habits to change but plastic wrapping and packaging is still being brought to school.”

Students demonstrated their learning at an expo at the end of the year that included reusable shopping bags and beeswax wraps to show their families a litter-free alternative for wrapping school lunches.

Teaching resource readies for launch

To achieve widespread behaviour change, KNZB is using TV, radio, print ads and posters, with actor Dave Fane dressed as ‘Mama Nature’ responding to casual littering, such as dropping of takeaway coffee cups in parks and on streets.

KNZB is developing the new anti-litter teaching resource for schools as part of its reinvigoration of a litter awareness and behaviour change campaign that began 51 years ago, which encouraged everyone to ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’. 

Aimed at children aged 5-11, a storybook, Kiki Kiwi and the Friends – The Travelling Trash, is part of a package including lesson plans and interactive support resources with informative learning material to raise awareness and inspire action. Kiki Kiwi and his wildlife friends, including Sybil Seagull and Puka Pukeko, see and talk about the impacts of a blue plastic bag being dropped outside a shop and ending up in the Pacific Ocean.

A resource pack will be available in all primary schools in term 3.

Christine White, KNZB’s education manager says, “The scale of the litter problem is growing and the multimedia material teaches children that throwing something away doesn’t make it go away, as it can travel far across the planet, but also shows students what they can do about it.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:00 pm, 23 May 2018

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