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Meet the Locals: A classroom resource for teachers

Mike Tapp

Nic Vallance

Meet the Locals 1
A classroom resource for teachers

Meet the Locals 1 is a series of four-minute mini-documentaries filmed in partnership with TVNZ and the Department of Conservation.

As teaching resources they match the vision for our young people as in the New Zealand Curriculum. You'll meet creative, energetic and enterprising people actively contributing to the well being of New Zealand.

The videos highlight the inspiring work of local communities, individuals and DOC staff as they strive to protect and enhance New Zealand's natural heritage. We chose a selection and linked teaching and learning activities to them.

You'll find science units with a focus on our unique reptiles, insects, birds and sand dune environment.  We study our volcanoes and the way they've influenced our biodiversity and there's a Social Studies unit that explores the reasons for maintaining treasures from the past.

The units were written for Years 7 to 9 but teachers of younger or older students can easily adapt them and find them useful. They'll stand alone or can be incorporated into wider units to match your themes.
Web links to the Meet The Locals videos are supplied throughout the units - just click on the links!

You'll find learning tools too designed to connect new knowledge and skills to practical situations. Students will work in authentic contexts using parts of actual recovery plans used by DOC and other groups out in the field. This will add relevance and purpose to what they do. A click on the links will bring you to the learning tools and other useful websites.

Meet the video presenter
Nic Vallance presents each Meet the Locals video. She's been passionate about New Zealand's wildlife and wild places for as long as she can remember and after gaining a zoology degree she studied penguin chicks on the Antarctic Peninsula, bottlenose dolphins in Fiordland and was a Hector's dolphin swimming guide on Banks Peninsula.

Nic started her career at the DOC as the journalist in Otago and right now she's DOC's national media advisor and enjoys telling New Zealanders all about the special wildlife and wild places that belong to them. 
Meet the resource writer
Mike Tapp has been a teacher, principal, Newspapers in Education manager and an educational resource writer for all sorts of organisations. He's worked with teachers and children on research and professional development contracts for the Ministry of Education and right now he's a Community Relations Ranger for DOC Taranaki. 

Mike hasn't swum with dolphins but he has mountain biked through huge swarms of sandflies, more than once.

The photos you see in the units are mostly from the Department of Conservation. Mike took the ones of lizard friendly gardens and weta homes and the wily looking cat is Jazz. After 16 years of patient teaching she focuses purely on rats, mice and sleeping in the sun.

The units

A bird in the hand
Explores the features of some of our most endangered birds and the recovery programmes, techniques and technology that is helping them out. We focus on the takahe, kakapo, Chatham Island black robin, kokako and Northern Royal albatross.

The Big Friendly Giants - The Giant Weta
Find out why these weta have survived so long and explore the factors leading to their demise. Students will see why the weta is so unique, they'll assess recovery plans and find out how to improve living conditions for weta in their own backyard.

The reptiles
Explore the habitats of our rare McRaes Flat skink, Chevron skink, Duvaucel's gecko and Jewelled gecko and see how they have responded to environmental changes. Decide if their adaptive features are helping or hindering the lizards' survival and explore the consequences of rats on our pest free islands. Students look at the Head Start programme for the tuatara and assess and make suggestions for the recovery programme.

They're oldies but goodies
We explore the reasons for retaining and maintaining treasures from the past with a look at four very unique historic sites. We delve into the gold mining and kauri logging days and head back in time to when New Zealanders planned defences for possible invasion. Students study technological needs and achievements from another era, look for problems and offer possible solutions.

Shake, rattle and roll
We focus on New Zealand's volcanic activity, exploring specific volcanoes like Tarawera, White Island and Rangitoto. Students consider the consequences from their eruptions and the effect on local biodiversity. The look at eco tourism too and assess the effects on people and the environment.

Our own gold coast
This little unit explores the importance of sand dunes for the critters and plants that live in and around them. We find out about the impact of introduced species on our coastline and investigate the reasons for their introduction. We focus on pingao or pikao - the golden sand sedge and explore the largest coastal plant protection programme in the Southern hemisphere at Mason Bay in Stewart Island.

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