Ridge to Reef Expedition a celebration of Earth Day

Ridge to Reef expedition a celebration of Earth Day

Prepared by Maeva Fe’ao age 14, member of the Youth Media Team. 

Wow, talk about adventure! As soon as we arrived at the Avana stream the good times started flowing, there were smiles all around. What a day. Nothing like celebrating our earth by sharing its beauty with our youth. 

The ridge to reef programme involved visiting four different unique ecosystems found within the Avana district. At each site, we talked about the changes in life we were seeing along the way, to how this life provides free services to us such as medicines and food. Threats towards each site visited were also discussed from development to climate change and of course pollution.”.-Alanna Smith, TIS

We invited youth to come on an expedition from ridge to reef and were lucky to be joined by many experts in their field to share their wealth of knowledge with us. We started our adventure up at Avana stream by the water intake, where Ross Dillon from To Tatou Vai explained how they turn rainwater captured from the inland areas into safe drinking water. 

Not only did we get to learn about our water system but we also got an exclusive glimpse of a young Kakerori, the endemic Rarotongan fly-catcher!

From here, we moved further down to the rock pools where Joseph Brider from Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust and Brennan Panzarella from Muri Environment Care told us about the different types of plants, including the beautiful giant ferns, chestnut trees and to our surprise crystal rocks found within this area. The team from the National Environment Service helped the different groups complete their scavenger hunt cards where teams had to hunt for particular plants and fungi found within the area.

What shocked me was while exploring that beautiful site was, that we also found an upsetting amount of rubbish. “To record the pollution side of things, we carried out a waste audit where rubbish was collected at each site and then recorded at the end. The popular rock pool swimming site had the most amount of rubbish recorded.” Alanna (TIS)

From there we headed down to where the stream meets the lagoon and observed a special site, the Aroko salt marsh. Joseph told us how rare it is to find an ecosystem with grass and other plants growing in a challenging environment near the sea. It’s possible because of the freshwater coming down from the stream mixing with seawater and the fact that that specific type of grass loves salt.

Next, we explored the shoreline where Kelvin (TIS) told us about the geo-textile sandbags' purpose to stop foreshore erosion. One big problem for our environment is development. When people build near the beach they risk building in a constantly changing environment that is prone to erosion. 

To complete our expedition we went to Avana lookout a.k.a ‘the washing machine’. It definitely lives up to its name. Although I think it should be called the RIPTIDE! There were huge waves crashing on the reef. The sea was so powerful. It looked as if it could break the rock we were standing on at any second.

This was an awesome collaboration by Te Ipukarea Society and Muri Environment Care, with support from Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, To Tatou Vai and the National Environment Service. Vodafone provided some topups as prizes for the day as well! It was an amazing way for the youth to gain a better understanding of our earth and a better appreciation for it too. Remember just because Earth day is one day in the year that doesn't mean it's the only day that we can do something for our Earth. So I'm calling out to all my fellow youth, to get out there and experience nature the way it's intended to. Trust me you won't regret it!