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MAD Marine 2017

Last school holidays, 27 schools from across Auckland put forward two students to join together and attend MAD Marine 2017. The start of this Make A Difference youth environmental leadership camp, sponsored by Auckland Council, saw the 50 students ferry from ‘the Cloud’ to Islington Bay (Rangitoto Island). From there they walked over to Motutapu Island and continued to the MOEC camp.

The students spent four days together: spotting snapper while snorkelling in a marine reserve; observing rare shore birds while kayaking around islands; finding whales and dolphins on the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari; visiting historic gun emplacements at sunrise and a beach clean-up on Sandy beach. Later creating trash art from the rubbish they collected.

They spent time finding native long fin eels and giant weta during night walks. Through all these activities was developed a deeper understanding of the purpose of environmental actions. Apart from the physical things, they had the opportunity to be inspired by many strong-willed people from all walks of life with one goal: to fight for the protection of our marine environment and make a positive difference.

One scientist spent a good chunk of her time collecting whale poop to figure out what a certain species of whale consumed. A girl during her school years, enthused young kids around NZ about marine mammals by presenting a TV show, Young Ocean Explorers. Another, enforced a voluntary protocol for ships to sail under 10 knots in the Hauraki Gulf to prevent ship strike, a major issue causing the death of Bryde’s whales. The students had always known there were activists, people out there doing something, but not everyone sees the worth of their efforts and the difficulty of the obstacles they face.

Apart from all the serious stuff, everyone got to meet other like-minded people who they shared the good times with – including the skits which was a real highlight. The food was also a real highlight as well as having nature unravel it’s charm.

I was lucky enough to be one of these students. This hui benefitted me because I am now aware of potential solutions to current issues and I have also increased in confidence, particularly with speaking.

This is relevant to you guys because just like all these people who are working hard to reach those seemingly unattainable goals, you could put your ideas into play as well, every contribution counts.

Unfortunately, MAD has ended due to low funding from Auckland Council. But it’s legacy remains, as a wide network of people are now connected and there is fervent support for anyone to reach whatever goal they have in mind.

Katrina Chan