'Brat pack' soldiers for conservation

By Liz Wylie

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PEST CONTROL: Amorhera Richards, left,  and Jade Cadman display the rat they caught after a Bio Brats weekend.
PEST CONTROL: Amorhera Richards, left, and Jade Cadman display the rat they caught after a Bio Brats weekend.

Waimarino youth have some exciting new training options available with courses tailored to suit their unique environment.

The Raetihi-based Dream Makers Trust, working with the Department of Conservation, launched Bio Brats in April this year.

A weekend programme for kids aged between 10 and 12, Bio Brats gives participants hands-on experience in conservation and pest eradication.

The young participants have been working to eliminate pests from the Mangaehuehu Scenic Reserve, setting traps and joining training sessions for bird aversion dogs with support from Marianne Wright from DoC and Pipiriki head ranger Dennis McDonnell.

Dream Makers Trust chairman George Potaka said the "brat pack", as they are affectionately known, have already become passionate conservationists.

"A couple of them have said they want to fundraise for a trip to Stewart Island to help with kiwi conservation there."

Mr Potaka said the trust had also started a new course for rangatahi/youth who have been identified as "high risk" because of their behaviour or circumstances.

Hoea To Waka (Row Your Own Boat) is based on the Te Whare Tapa Wha model, integrating all four pou of the whare (all four corner posts of the house) - taha hinengaro (mental and emotional well-being), taha tinana (physical well-being), taha wairua (spiritual wellbeing), and taha whanau/family.

Psychotherapist Charity Mora works with students to build on their emotional well-being while their physical well-being is assisted by horse riding with Heidi McGowan and Wayne Waara at Blue Mountain Equestrian.

"The course is designed to build on the understanding that the students already have and help them gain a better understanding of their own capabilities by trying new things and understanding their own emotional needs and the effects their actions have on others," said Mr Potaka.

As an artist he works on creative projects with the rangatahi. Mr Potaka was the people's choice winner of last year's Waimarino Art Awards.

Last year a group of students designed T-shirts and made a short film around the importance of emotional well-being.

Mr Potaka said the trust was always on the lookout for suitable mentors for young people in the Waimarino, Whanganui and Rangitikei areas. The trust is offering a free training course for those interested in mentoring on the weekend of August 27 and 28.

Experienced mentor and trainer Ross McCook from the Heart for Youth Trust in Auckland is coming to Raetihi to run the course.

Mr Potaka said it would cover what it meant to be a mentor, how to gain a positive self image and how to build self esteem in young people.

The course is open to all interested adults who can decide at the end if they wish to be involved with Dream Makers' mentoring programme.

Details can be found on the Dream Makers Trust Facebook page or people can email chairman@dreammakerstrust. co.nz

- Wanganui Chronicle

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