Students swap the classroom for the sea


A group of Maori students from the Wellington region will set sail from Queen’s Wharf today to get a taste of life as marine scientists.

The students will spend a day in Wellington Harbour onboard the 28-metre long scientific research vessel Kaharoa as part of a project developed by the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, and the Ministry of Education.

The project, which is sponsored by the Commission, is an extension of NIWA’s Sea and Learn education programme for sixth and seventh formers, and is aimed at increasing the number of Maori students involved in the fishing industry – and in marine sciences in general.

NIWA marine biologist and programme coordinator Dr Julie Hall said this is a great opportunity for students to work with real life scientists. The teaching resource for the programme was developed jointly by NIWA scientists and school science teachers and is linked to the New Zealand school curriculum. Full safety training is provided.

“The students get to trawl fish, collect samples of plankton and benthic organisms on the seafloor, and learn about the electronic and navigational equipment on the vessel.”

But it is not only the students who get all the fun. Teachers also get the chance to interact directly with practising scientists and further their professional development. Keith Hartle, a science teacher from Dargaville High in Northland, will be onboard to help the students. Keith is supported by a Royal Society Science, Mathematics and Technology Fellowship.

The Sea and Learn Programme was initiated by NIWA in September 1999. Using its own resources, NIWA provides pupils from 19 schools each with a 1-day hands-on science voyage on its research vessel Kaharoa, catering for up to 12 students at a time.

Kaharoa will depart Wellington bound for Tauranga (17–21 June) and Auckland (22–26 June).

The current programme

  • 17 June – Mount Maunganui College
  • 18 June – Cambridge High School
  • 19 June – Morrinsville College
  • 20 June – Taupo-Nui-A-Tia College
  • 21 June – Edgecumbe College
  • 22 June – Papakura High School
  • 23 June – Pukekohe High School
  • 24 June – Glendowie College
  • 25 June – Rodney College
  • 26 June – Manurewa High School


Director - Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge
Students onboard RV Kaharoa.


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Archived on 17 April 2019