A stimulating experience.

Seeing young people along with their families- parents, brothers, sisters, aunties , grans and grandads and all friends enjoying the 170 entertaining, energising and educational activities at Kidzone is inspirational.

Clare  helping a friend construct a bee model

Not to be outdone, Invercargill Environment Centre, Te Whenua Awhi, provided a variety of activities for young and old alike in their Environment room with the emphasis on bees. The highlights were the chance to make beehive mobiles, bees from egg cartons or explore a real beehive. An explanation of how bees go about the task of making honey and how apiarists use bees’ energy for the benefit of humans by making honey wound up with people able to taste some comb honey -a sweet new experience for many.

People learned about the importance of bees for pollination of so many plants and their vulnerability because of pesticide use. Long tongued bumble bees and their special habits were also featured. Bee friendly plants which can be planted in back gardens to encourage bees were another feature.

Centre tutor Mayhla helping young people make puti puti- ( flax flowers)
at Kidzone in the Environment Centre room.

Alongside this feature, people were able to make putiputi from harakeke ( flax flowers) to take home as a gift for someone else. Volunteer Mayhla gave generously of her time and expertise to teach others.

A wee bee talking to a big bee on a penny farthing
at Kidzone's Environment room- theme of bees this year

The Environment room drew people in with its bee on a penny farthing bike which was fun. Each day an apiarist came to educate interested people and we thank David Henderson and Jasmine Hayes for their expertise. Author Raymond Hubber from Dunedin was a special drawcard as he read from his books about bees.

Children's author Raymond Hubber
 reads his books about bees to young people
 at Kidzone's Environment Centre room- with its theme of bees.   

The recycled activity centre was not only an attraction in the Environment room but it also enthused younger children in the ‘Talking Pictures’ room where a photo exhibition about Human Rights provided some stimulating conversations and awareness raising about rights and responsibilities.

These rooms could not have been such challenging and educational places if it had not been for the generosity of volunteer helpers and staff giving their time and energy to ensure visitors both enjoyed the time interacting as well as learned some new information.

Now how does this work might be the question
Invercargill's Oliver van Uden-Smith aged 3
 is asking his big brother Blake

Kidzone is a WOW experience thanks to the sponsors, organisers and volunteers.


Water Whisperers- Tangaroa

Co- producers ( left) Mike Coughlan and Kathleen Gallagher talk to Judith Robinson about their eco-documentary 'Water Whisperers Tangaroa', at the Invercargill premier on Sunday night 20 March). Ten stories involving about 60 people across New Zealand, tell about their response to seeing their local waterways being degraded. American Indians interact with maori, along with farmers, fishermen, scientists and people who enjoy water for recreation, who all work together to make a difference.
''We wanted to explore water and the plight of water starting at the mountains and moving through lakes, rivers, oceans and the deep sea,'' Ms Gallagher says. ''We found people who have turned this sad state of affairs around and we see them as prophets and visionaries.''

Filming took nine months, finishing just before the September earthquake in Christchurch, where the couple live.

The film has been shown in France and Barcelona at film festivals as well as around New Zealand, with positive responses from audiences both in Invercargill and Te Anau and a lot of discussion after the viewings.

Mossburn senior pupils and Black billed gulls

Taken by Paul Davey

Mossburn senior pupils were captivated by the information they learned about
their local environment with their overnight stay at the North Etal hut in
the Dunrobin Valley in their last week of school in 2006.

The highlight was the enthusiastic talk and power point by black billed gull
researcher Rachel McClellan who encouraged questions to enable the students
to appreciate the vulnerable situation these gulls are in regarding their
depleted numbers. She explained how she is very interested in finding out
about banded birds in particular, encouraging the students to report any
sightings to her to help with her research. Students along with farmers will
notice these birds as they follow behind tractors at ploughing time, getting
the freshly turned up invertebrates. The birds seem to be very dependent on
farmland so periods of cold and drought make these vulnerable times for
them, with the big freeze in 1996 being a particularly devastating time for
Rachel does not know why their numbers have declined so rapidly, so suddenly
but she hopes they are plateauing at present. Students were concerned about
the effect of predators on the birds and especially the chicks before they

Birds do not go back to their same nesting site each year so rookeries have
to be found every year.

The students were very pleased to be able to report to Rachel that they had
found a new colony of about 1400 birds further up the Aparima River when
they had gone on a walk to the Aparima hut on the previous day. This was one
not known to her so she was taken to be shown their discovery.

With their raised awareness these students are not only be better informed
about their local area, but they can also keep contributing to on- going
research in to these special Southland birds.