Students learn more about sustainability

Monday December 12, 2016 Written by Published in Education
Muri Lagoon has been the focus of environmental concerns for some time. 16121136 Muri Lagoon has been the focus of environmental concerns for some time. 16121136

This weekly column is contributed by Te Ipukarea Society and discusses issues concerning the environment and conservation.


ON NOVEMBER 28, Liam Kokaua and Kelvin Passfield of Te Ipukarea Society spoke to a combined group of students from Titikaveka College and visiting New Zealand students from Whangarei, at the Titikaveka College Hall.

The visiting students and their local counterparts are spending two weeks learning about one of the most important environmental concepts: Sustainability.

One definition of sustainability is the ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself. In respect to our environment, it's about taking what we need to live now, without jeopardising the potential for people in the future (such as our children and grandchildren) to meet their needs. If an activity is said to be sustainable, it should be able to continue forever.

In particular, the students wanted to focus on three areas of sustainability which are very relevant to small island environments such as in the Cook Islands. These are sustainability on land, sustainability of our lagoon and oceans, and sustainable tourism.

The following lists are adapted from what was presented to the students this week.

 Sustainability on land

• Reduce the amount of waste you create, especially non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste. Some simple examples are to have a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Don’t purchase “single use” items such as polystyrene and plastic takeaway containers as they become rubbish as soon as you finish eating. Dining in at restaurants and cafés can be better for the environment as you usually eat with re-usable washable plates and cutlery. 

• Reuse items: buy quality reusable items which will a last long time and will save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, good quality pots and pans last a life time compared to cheaper versions which have to be thrown out and replaced after a year or two.

• Recycle when possible! On Rarotonga plastics, glass, aluminium cans, and tin-cans are all collected for recycling, so sort them apart and put them out for collection.

• Take advantage of free white ware and e-waste collections. Next time there is a white ware or e-waste collection, drop off your old electronics and get hazardous waste off your property. It won’t cost a cent!

• Compost food scraps or feed them to pigs. Don’t put food scraps into the bin!

• Don’t dump hazardous waste such as leftover chemicals and car batteries on the ground. It will poison the soil and lagoon and is bad for human health.

• Reduce runoff on land. Use less chemical fertilisers and weedkillers and keep them away from rivers and streams.

Sustainability of the lagoon

• Tourist accommodation and private residences should have adequate septic systems to prevent leakage into the lagoon, and regular maintenance of these systems to prevent overfilling.

• Respect marine life and ra’ui (traditional conservation) zones. Don’t trample on coral, feed fish with bread or use damaging fishing methods, or harvest young animals which have not yet been able to breed.

Sustainability of the Ocean

• Do not overfish certain species.

• Do not use fishing practices which catch non-target species.

Sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment.

Tourist accommodation businesses are learning and making moves towards being more environmentally friendly, but this is not happening not fast enough. Coastal areas such as are often the first environments to experience the negative impacts of tourism. Also, tourist numbers are increasing too fast for many destinations and infrastructure such as sewage systems can’t keep up. For example, Rarotonga has 125,000 visitors a year, with a resident population of only 12,000. The island is struggling to deal with the environmental pressure which high tourist numbers create.

Seventy-five per cent of tourism’s climate impact comes from aviation emissions (planes need to burn fuel to get to where they’re going).  Do you really need to go to that next overseas meeting or conference? Or can you hold an online video conference instead?

• Be conscious about what you bring into the country. Try not to bring in things which will become rubbish on the island after you leave

• Buy and support locally made products. Generally these have less packaging (rubbish), and imported foods have “food miles” – that is the amount of jet fuel required to fly it from one country to another.

• Stay at “eco-hotels” and participate in “ecotourism” activities.

• Support locally owned, community or family-run businesses where money goes to local people.

• Stay at an environmentally friendly accommodation

• Support and/or donate to not-for-profit environmental programmes at your destination.

Language resources

now available online DO YOUR children always want to grab your phone or computer tablet and play around? Now when they do that, they can be increasing their Maori literacy as well.

A range of early reading Maori resources are now available on line and are free to anyone who would like to add them to their phone or other digital device for their children to use.

Each book has two pre-recorded readings. One spoken at the normal speed for fluent Maori readers and another spoken at a slower pace for second language learners needing help with pronunciation.

The translated books include titles such as Ara Reta, Pakoti Tita and Manea o te Kainga. These resources are the first set and are intended for beginning and emergent readers of Cook Islands Maori.

The ministry plans to continue adding more books to the online collection each year, and  higher levels of literacy, to increase the availability of Maori resources. The books will be a valuable resource not just for students learning Maori, but also for keen learners around the world with access to the ministry website.

“We are hoping that these resources will be of good benefit to people wanting to learn the language and, importantly, for parents to read with their children”, said L&T line manager, Jane Taurarii.

So next time your child or grandchild wants to play with your phone, just open up one of the readers and let them learn!

What you will need:

1. A device that can go online – a smart phone, tablet, iPad or laptop

2. An e-reader application eg skyreader, adobe digital editions, ibooks (automatically on iPads)

How to access the books:

1. You can download them from our website 

2. There will be a link on the home page to the readers as well as some easy instructions on how to open them and turn the pages.

If you need help getting the e-reader application or downloading the books, please do not hesitate to come to the Ministry of Education in Nikao with your USB stick or hard drive, or bring your phone, tablet or iPad in and our IT team will help get you sorted.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Jane Taurarii or Anau Parima at the Ministry of Education on 29357.

            - Release


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