Kiwi kids learn virtually everything about New Zealand's native Christmas tree
9/11/2010

Next week thousands of primary, intermediate and secondary school students from around the country will participate in a virtual field-trip to Whangarei to learn about New Zealand’s native Christmas tree, the pōhutukawa.

The three-day field trip run by LEARNZ in conjunction with Project Crimson, begins on Wednesday 17November, and teaches students about biodiversity, coastal ecosystems and habitats, land use, resource management and plant biology, wrapped up in a fun and interactive programme.
 
Project Crimson is a charitable conservation trust, which aims to protect and renew New Zealand’s native crimson flowering trees – the rata and pōhutukawa. This virtual field-trip will also reveal how pōhutukawa and rātā are in danger of disappearing from our natural environment.
 
Students will get to visit Kai Iwi lakes with ‘The Bugman’, Ruud Kleinpaste, who will explain how all things in the environment are interconnected. They will meet with other experts who have helped restore pōhutukawa in the environment in Whangarei.
 
Students will also get to explore areas where pōhutukawa have been planted and discover the significance of this sacred tree to Maori.
 
“Pōhutukawa has become a very popular New Zealand symbol of summer and Christmas” says Bridget Abernthy, Executive Director of Project Crimson.
 
“20 years ago they were threatened in New Zealand - but as a people we have made a conscious decision to protect them on our coastline and embrace them as part of our ecology but also our culture and heritage.”
 
LEARNZ is an interactive education programme, free to New Zealand teachers. LEARNZ uses online tools such as live audio conferencing, web diaries, photos and videos to take students to places they would never usually get the chance to visit, without the expense and time of a physical field trip. For more information about LEARNZ field trips and to register visit www.learnz.org.nz.