Te Ipukarea Society: Our environment through the eyes of youth

Saturday June 20, 2020 Written by Alanna Smith, Te Ipukarea Society Published in Environment
Student Jordayn Matutu, snapped by one of her classmates. 20061912 Student Jordayn Matutu, snapped by one of her classmates. 20061912

Much of Te Ipukarea Society’s work is raising awareness about conservation and sustainable environmental practices.

 We share these messages through social media, TV ads, posters, brochures and more.

Of all the platforms that can be used to get our message across, it is the power of still environmental photos that has always caught my eye.

What I like most about photography is that from just a simple click, an image can create an important message that reaches a wide audience. 

It crosses the language and cultural divide. How these photos are perceived by the individual then has the power to create lasting environmental change at both local and global scale.

Not only does photography have the power to encourage behavioural change, but the technical skills acquired can also create exciting employment opportunities for our youth, both locally and internationally – from tourism, to international platforms like National Geographic and TIME magazine.

In the hope of developing interest in this niche area, particularly with an environmental focus, Te Ipukarea Society and the US Embassy in New Zealand have secured funding to carry out environmental photography classes at six local high schools across Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu.

Part of this is engaging youth in our local environmental issues, covering landscapes from the ridge to the reef.

The positives, negatives, threats and solutions will all be discussed by experts from local environmental groups Te Ipukarea Society and Kōrero o te `Ōrau, as well as government agencies.  

Local photographers Tokerau Jim and Turama Photography are teaching students how to use Nikon DSLR cameras and edit their images.

By the end of the programme each student will have a portfolio of photos of a particular issue or area they feel most connected to. One photo by each student will then be presented on canvas boards and exhibited so students can share their messages with families and friends.

Our youth today offer a different perspective when it comes to how they see our environment.

From having spent some time with local students, I find it super refreshing to sense our tamariki and mapu are becoming more aware and conscious about our Mana Tiaki values. 

They are in the great position of having exposure to both old and modern sustainable practices.  

The future they aspire to needs to be heard, and this programme hopes to offer an alternative platform to public speaking through the use of images taken through the lens of our youth today.

US Ambassador Scott Brown says they are proud to support such a significant and creative project on Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Atiu.

“We hope the youth in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua make the most of this opportunity to learn practical skills,” he says.

“We look forward to seeing the photos they capture of your fabulous country while also promoting our shared value of environmental protection."


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