Become a Kiwi Ranger in Dunedin
Ever felt the soft spring of forest moss with your toes, tasted a drop of pure honey dew on the tip of your tongue or sat with closed eyes in the bush and really listened to all the bird sounds you can hear?
These are some of the activities that children of all ages get to do through the Kiwi Ranger programme, now offered at 10 South Island sites and one in the North Island.
Kiwi Ranger is easy to do and in most cases free. You pick a booklet and choose which activities to do. Completion of the tasks earns you a badge – unique to each site – and the title of “Kiwi Ranger.” The programme is aimed at kids from three upwards with older children challenged to do more activities to earn their badge.
The activities get children to use all their senses to investigate the special features of a place—the native plants and animals, its unique geography, relics of human history and how it’s being conserved today. Many also call for a bit of detective work and imagination.
Budding Kiwi Rangers are also encouraged to think about something they’d like to do when they get home that’s good for the environment and to record this in their booklet.
The Kiwi Ranger programme fits nicely with DOC’s vision to create “one million conservation kids.”
DOC community engagement specialist and mother of two, Sarah Mankelow, says the beauty of Kiwi Ranger is the way it engages families to work together.
“The booklets are designed to be self-directed so parents or caregivers can pick one up and off they go.
“Parents have an important role as first teachers, and Kiwi Ranger gives children and parents an opportunity to learn alongside each other.”
With 86% of New Zealanders living in towns and cities it is no surprise that children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Yet, research shows that experiences with nature as a child are critical to influencing attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.
Kiwi Ranger is one way of getting kids to reconnect with nature and to develop a sense of wonder and respect. By developing a network of Kiwi Ranger places around the country, DOC hopes to encourage families to go to new places and build on their experiences, as well as collect the badges.
Stretch your ears to hear the “woosh, woosh” of kereru, step through the gate in the pest-proof fence and go back in time to a world without predators. Search for water creatures in the streams and ponds.
Get your booklet from the Orokonui Ecosanctuary visitor centre. Note there is a charge to enter the ecosanctuary ($16/adult, children $8, preschoolers free). A gold coin donation to cover the booklet costs is appreciated.