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Primary school kids launch Toyota Kiwi Guardians

New Zealand has its first Toyota Kiwi Guardians after the nationwide project, designed to increase six to 10 year olds’ connection with the natural environment was launched at North Head, Devonport on Friday 11 March.

Accompanied by staff and parents, children from Drury, Bayswater and St Leo’s schools took part in the activities.

“Research has shown that children can establish a lifelong connection with nature if they actively engage with it between the ages of six and 10,” says DOC’s National Outreach and Education Manager Sarah Murray.

“The project highlights family friendly activities at sites for kids to explore with the aid of an “adventure map”.

Toyota Kiwi Guardians was formally launched by the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry.

Each site has a final destination with a code, which the children can then enter into the Kiwi Guardians website and receive a completion medal in return.

“The project encourages young people to have ownership over our conservation land, to feel part of it and to want to care for it in the future and have fun outside,” said Ms Murray.

Despite the passing showers, the children had an awesome time exploring the old forts, interlinking tunnels and gun emplacements which were built between 1908 and 1911 to ward off a possible Russian invasion.

The youngsters tired themselves out running up and down the terraced fortifications and some were presented with medals as the first Kiwi Guardians.

North Head is administered by the Department of Conservation which has set up the Kiwi Guardians project in conjunction with Toyota.

Apart from North Head, other activity sites in the Auckland area have already been established at Cape Rodney/ Goat Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Nationwide there are 20 sites set up near to Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The number is expected to grow to 50 by the end of the year. All are close to main urban centres to get city kids into the outdoors.