A new Bay of Islands outdoor education centre aims to give Kiwi kids a taste of adventure along with solid knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Bay Light Bay of Islands Exploration Centre at Pukematu in Russell provides unique school camps with a focus on high quality outdoor experiences including visits to Pompallier House, kayaking, mountain biking, sailing, bush walks and fishing.
Owner Alwyn Poole said the centre opened two weeks ago and would be welcoming their first guests, students from a variety of Auckland schools, from August 16-18. The centre also had bookings from a Hawaii school in the new year.
The aim of the camp is to give children and young people a "high quality learning experience" of the Bay of Islands and that includes at least half a day at Waitangi, he said. It also includes an academic morning programme.
"I think every New Zealand child should have that experience of our bicultural and historical beginnings of a treatied nation," he said.
"It's a strong curriculum requirement that the Treaty is well taught, there's no better way than to actually go up there."
The idea is the brainchild of Poole and his wife Karen who have lived in Russell half of the year of the year, and commute to Auckland the other half, since 2016.They have been planning the centre, which sits on a large property overlooking the sea, for 18 months.
Poole is the academic advisor to three private schools in Auckland; Mt Hobson Middle School, South Auckland Middle School and Middle School West Auckland.
He and Karen also run the Trust Villa Education Trust.
There are five purpose-built cabins and a learning centre at Bay Light, along with a commercial kitchen, laundry and ablution blocks.
It can take up to 26 students at one time, and extra youth can be accommodated at the nearby Orongoa Holiday Park, he said.
Poole said he has regularly brought his Auckland students to the Bay of Islands, "first and foremost to experience Waitangi."
"When we've brought kids up from Auckland, they've come away with a different feel about themselves. The Waitangi Trust has improved it so much in the last five to 10 years. The museum is extraordinary and it's such a beautiful part of New Zealand."
The centre also provides "retreat and planning" opportunities for corporates, churches and school staff.
A new office has also been opened on Cass St in the Russell town centre. Visit www.baylight.co.nz for details.