Seaweek makes a splash

Piper Leggett looks at the birdlife and sealife people can encounter at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve. The day was held to mark the start of Seaweek. Pictures by Liam Clayton
DoC supervisor community engagement Charles Barrie with Bully Duke, Kevin Higgins at the family adventure day.
Instructor Amy Hardy takes Damien Clayton, Aydenn Warren, Liam Warren and Rhiannon Morrell into the water for some snorkelling.

ROUGH seas and overcast skies did not deter about 70 people who attended the family adventure day at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve on Saturday.

The day, organised to kick off Seaweek (March 3-11), began with large swell and choppy conditions but as the tide dropped and conditions improved, many people took advantage of the snorkelling and other activities on offer.

“We had heaps of people in and out of the water all day and the team from Te Ora Hou had the sausages sizzling,” said Nga Mahi Te Taiao director Murray Palmer.

“It was awesome to see kids, some as young as six, loving swimming with trevally and seeing the abundance of marine life for the first time.

“The perception of this place is changing, which is a great thing as we have had difficulties with theft occuring in the reserve. A big part of the day was providing education and information about the reserve’s historical significance on an ecological and wider cultural level,” he said.

Department of Conservation community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie said it was a positive day and he was very pleased with the turnout.

“People often consider a marine reserve inaccessible, a place to stay away from, but we want the community to learn the many different ways a marine reserve can be enjoyed and valued.

“We had a range of activities to encourage people to ask questions about the landscape and learn more about this marine taonga,” said Mr Barrie.

The family adventure day was attended by Gisborne residents of all ages and also attracted a large number of tourists visiting the region.

As a fun, educational day, it was a huge success, said Mr Palmer.

“It was fantastic to engage with the community on something that is incredibly special and important.”

ROUGH seas and overcast skies did not deter about 70 people who attended the family adventure day at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve on Saturday.

The day, organised to kick off Seaweek (March 3-11), began with large swell and choppy conditions but as the tide dropped and conditions improved, many people took advantage of the snorkelling and other activities on offer.

“We had heaps of people in and out of the water all day and the team from Te Ora Hou had the sausages sizzling,” said Nga Mahi Te Taiao director Murray Palmer.

“It was awesome to see kids, some as young as six, loving swimming with trevally and seeing the abundance of marine life for the first time.

“The perception of this place is changing, which is a great thing as we have had difficulties with theft occuring in the reserve. A big part of the day was providing education and information about the reserve’s historical significance on an ecological and wider cultural level,” he said.

Department of Conservation community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie said it was a positive day and he was very pleased with the turnout.

“People often consider a marine reserve inaccessible, a place to stay away from, but we want the community to learn the many different ways a marine reserve can be enjoyed and valued.

“We had a range of activities to encourage people to ask questions about the landscape and learn more about this marine taonga,” said Mr Barrie.

The family adventure day was attended by Gisborne residents of all ages and also attracted a large number of tourists visiting the region.

As a fun, educational day, it was a huge success, said Mr Palmer.

“It was fantastic to engage with the community on something that is incredibly special and important.”

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Grant Vincent, Chair, Forest - 6 months ago
So good to see children having fun and learning about our marine environment with DoC and Nga Mahi te Taiao through the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme. Great work DoC staff (you know who you are!) and Murray Palmer's crew.

To have a marine reserve on our back doorstep as it were, in the rohe of Ngati Konohi, is a treasure to be valued by us all - here is an area open for experiencing the wonder of the underwater world without any regular take by us of the human species. Nothing wrong with harvesting fish from the ocean, but Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve shows us how an area of coastal ocean can be rehabilitated as well as being a superb teaching and research area with benefits for all of us, and especially children.

I remember a few years ago when I went snorkelling for my very first time, at Te Tapuwae, and feeling, literally like I was in a different world - I'd recommend it to any land-lubber, it's just great! I was with a school group and Nga Mahi te Taiao. The kids and adults all had a lot of fun and learned things without even trying.

If you're not keen on snorkelling, I'd say just walk along the beach and in the water or swim there, enjoy the place, just take it all in, it's worth it. Sometimes the solitude, so close to town, can be intensely invigorating and relaxing all at once.