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Summary Page: Kōkako - restoring birdsong to Mt Pirongia
Term 2 starting 19 June 2018.



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On this field trip you join a 20-year public conservation movement at its most joyous time, as kōkako return!

Why in 1999, did the Reserve Bank put the kōkako and Pureora Forest, on its $50 note? Answer: in the early 1900s kōkako were common in forests all over New Zealand but 90 years later, there were just 330 mating pairs left. The famous song of the organ birds, as kōkako were known, 'is flung ... from the tops of trees at dawn; it fills the sky, and then settles like a huge blanket down through their forest territories' (ecologist John Innes). That haunting song was destined to disappear.

In the 1990s on Mt Pirongia, a public campaign had the last of the kōkako there removed so they wouldn't die out. The kōkako as a species was seriously declining in number across the North Island as logging, land clearance for agriculture and predators all took their toll. A lot of hard work by scientists, the Department of Conservation, iwi and community groups over the past 25 years has now seen a recovery of kōkako numbers.

During this field trip you will journey alongside a community group returning some of the Pirongia lineage kōkako back to their home on Mt Pirongia. Re-establishing a self-sustaining population on Mt Pirongia means paying attention to genetic diversity so population founders will come from Tiritiri Matangi Island and Pureora Forest; these widespread locations will help to maximise a healthy gene pool.

You will experience the fieldwork involved in capturing these birds safely in remote Pureora Forest and caring for them while they are transported and released to their new home on Mt Pirongia. You will also learn the detail of the Pirongia lineage birds, how they were cared for and how it is now possible to bring them back to their former home. This will be the second return of Kōkako to Mt Pirongia.

On this field trip you will visit a community who stood to lose the call of the kōkako forever. By working with volunteers and landowners, controlling pests and reintroducing native species they have achieved their ultimate goal of bringing their maunga back to life.

To prepare for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:

  • kōkako as a native species of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Lifecycle of kōkako
  • Adaptations of kōkako
  • kōkako habitat and habitat restoration
  • Threats to kōkako
  • Importance of kōkako to Māori
  • How you can help kōkako

During this field trip you will:

  • Follow Shelley's tweets on twitter
  • Join researchers on their search for kōkako in Pureora Forest
  • Carefully net and capture adult kōkako
  • Transport kōkako out of the forest to Mt Pirongia
  • Join the ceremony to release kōkako
  • Meet the volunteers and workers who have transformed Mt Pirongia
  • Hear the haunting call and understand why the bird is called kōkako
  • Meet scientists, local iwi and other experts who work with kōkako recovery
  • Find out how the community is involved in saving kōkako

After the field trip, challenge yourself to:

  • Educate others about kōkako
  • Find a local conservation project you could join
  • Influence others to support kōkako
  • Visit a place that has kōkako
  • Join an organization or subscribe to a magazine that helps kōkako
  • Do something to help a native species near you

Where you will go

You will fly into Hamilton and drive 30km west, to the small village of Pirongia. The village sits in the shadow of Mt Pirongia/Pirongia-o-Te Aroaro-ō-Kahu, an extinct volcano and the highest point at 959m, in the Waikato. 80km south east of Mt Pirongia, is Pureora Forest Park near Lake Taupo. Pureora forest was protected from logging in 1978 and is recognised as one of the finest rain forests in the world, with trees over 1,000 years old. Note: weather and other factors out of our control may influence activities during the field trip.

Teacher comments about related field trips

"It was wonderful having a bird students already had contact with to focus our inquiry skills of research, communication and self-regulation. There is an excellent balance of texts and photos which can be related to all the learning needs in my class. The field trip was so relevant and the format easy to use." Deborah Lamont from Methven School

"My students learned heaps about kea and the amazing people working with them. Students love these virtual field trips which provide for different levels of learning at the same time. We asked questions, did shared and independent reading, did shared and independent topic writing, art, technology, poetry and incorporated measurement and mapwork into this study topic." Martie Andrew from Awakeri School

"We have a strong interest in native birds at our school and this field trip fits in with the value 'ecological sustainability' and the "future focus" principle. I've used it as a science context but also as a high-interest and friendly reading and viewing resource." Jane Pearson from Hira School

"It supported teaching about the principles and values of the NZC for this group of 5-10 year old students, who are a part of the school's environmental team. It has been a driver for these students to form connections with those experts in our community who can support their projects, such as biosecurity officers at the regional council and local iwi." Carol Tyson from Hurupaki School

Go to more comments from teachers about similar field trips.

Learning Areas/Levels

Science: Living World Levels 2-4, Nature of Science Levels 2-4; Social Studies: Continuity and Change Levels 2-4, Place and Environment Levels 2-4, Identity, Culture and Organisation Levels 2-4; Technology Levels 2-4

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those pages read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are live tweets on twitter, and daily additions such as a diary, video clips, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, and ambassador (mascot) page updates. Live web conferences via Adobe Connect enable teachers to managed students putting prepared and spontaneous questions to experts (recorded for replay). After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View teacher comments in testimonials and in the LEARNZ Group on the VLN. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences/web conferences comprise a unique collection of authentic, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

    Not Registered with LEARNZ? Are you a New Zealand Registered or Provisionally-Registered Teacher? Register free with LEARNZ Now.

    Already Registered with LEARNZ and activated your account? Log in to your personal MyLEARNZ Control Panel and then enrol your classes at no cost in field trips. Note: Enrolment is only needed for the current and future year's field trips.

    Registered but need help? Check your email for activation instructions - contact us if the message did not make it to your email inbox. Log on to MyLEARNZ. Go to Getting Started.

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Introductory video for this field trip: Watch, embed or share on Vimeo or click below to watch here.



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Shelley the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Shelley, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

Inquiry Topics: adaptations of birds, biodiversity, birds, competition, conservation, environment, habitat, kōkako, kōkako recovery, life cycle, native birds, pest control, predators, protected environments, recovery programme, threatened species

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