Kāpiti College has been selected as the initial kaitiaki/guardian of a regional taonga/treasure in recognition of their ongoing work to address local environmental and ecological issues.
The taonga, an artwork gifted by Dame Tariana Turia to Enviroschools Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui/Wellington Region, will be presented annually to a local Enviroschool to acknowledge their commitment to kaitiakitanga/guardianship.
The Kāpiti College Eco Action Group is undoubtedly a worthy recipient, with its work including beach clean ups, advocacy for local water issues, and regular awareness campaigns in the wider community regarding other topical environmental issues.
“It is such an amazing responsibility to be given such an important piece of artwork,” said Year 11 student Francesca Griggs. “That fact that it ties in with the environment so deeply and was part of making an important decision is so special.”
Fellow Year 11 student Bree Renwick agreed. “To be given such a sacred piece of artwork means a lot, due to the love and respect that goes with it,” she said. “It signifies the importance of environmental change, and inspires us to keep going.”
Year 12 student Sophie Handford said being given kaitiakitanga of the taonga was incredibly meaningful as it made her really feel like one of “the next generation of young change makers.”
The artwork was created by Wellington artist Sheyne Tuffery in 2012 for Greenpeace. Fifty-five prints were presented to 55 politicians, including Dame Tariana Turia, as part of a campaign to encourage politicians to make urgent policy for improved protection of the endangered Māui’s dolphin (which numbered only 55 at the time) by banning net fishing throughout their habitat to a 100 metre depth.
“It is a really cool responsibility to take care of this beautiful artwork,” said Year 12 student Aliesha Taramai. “The fact that it also holds a lot of meaning, representing the endangerment of the Maui’s dolphin makes it very special to us, as it symbolises all that we, as an Eco Action group stand for. We treasure the environment of New Zealand, just as we will care for, continue to admire and be inspired by this amazing piece of art.”