As the crow flies, Ratapiko school is about 23km from the nearest beach, but to get there without the benefit of wings it would be a trip of close to 45km.

This distance won't stop the pupils from learning about marine life and environment however, as the school has just been accepted into the Marine Education programme organised by the Department of Conservation.

Principal Lisa Hill says the whole school will learn to snorkel as part of the programme.
"The children all receive one out of water lesson plus three lessons in the pool before we take them to Ngamotu Reserve in March to put those skills into practice."

The school also has to plan, teach and share with the community a project involving a waterway or environmental activity during the year, says Lisa.


"The children will decide the topic themselves, but we are fortunate to have the Ratapiko Lake, a stream on the school boundary and our swamp and millennium garden area to choose from."

The learning will continue throughout the year, culminating in a trip to Goat Island, off the coast of Auckland, in December. There the pupils will learn about the environment in that area, comparing the marine reserve with the one at Ngamotu.

Lisa says she and the rest of the team at Ratapiko School are excited by this opportunity this year, and look forward to the learning journey.