Project Janszoon, DOC and iwi launched the Abel Tasman education programme in 2014 to foster the future kaitiaki (guardians) of the park and inspire the next generation of scientists and environmentalists 

Adopt a Section Partnerships

One way we’re helping is through the ‘Adopt a Section’ initiative where schools become active partners in the management of a specific section of the park. Six local schools are currently involved in this initiative – Golden Bay High School, Motupipi Primary School, Lower Moutere School, Ngatimoti School, Motueka High School and Waimea College. The schools have successfully incorporated their learning into the school curriculum, with students gaining hands-on experiences and earning NCEA credits for a range of subjects – from art design and biology to physics and outdoor education.

All of the schools have contributed greatly to their sections. Students and their families have helped with tree planting, dune restoration, bird releases, pest control and more. Teachers and parents say the education project provides clear learning benefits and the students enjoy the hands-on involvement and opportunities to interact with DOC and Project Janszoon experts.

If you’d like education resources for your school, go to our Education Toolbox – you can even ask an expert a question!


Anchorage to Watering Cove

The iconic dune landscape at Anchorage, its estuaries and regenerating forest across to nearby Watering Cove, is Motueka High School’s special place in the park.

Motueka High School students and teachers have incorporated the Abel Tasman into every aspect of their learning. Students have studied subjects as diverse as biology, geography, media studies, design, science X, physics, adventure skills and outdoor education, and earn NCEA credits in a number of classes.  

The school was heavily involved in the Anchorage dune restoration where gorse was removed and native dune species planted to reduce the fire risk in the area.  Some classes continue to help with the weeding and maintenance of the plantings – a job not as fun as planting, but just as important.

Students in the school’s supported learning centre–The Base–are also involved in the programme, and its whānau and media studies classes are planning to incorporate the Abel Tasman into their learning in the near future.

The Anchorage Lagoon has been a focus of study for Motueka High School students, and in 2022 they supported the release of pāteke into that ecosystem. 


Hadfield Clearing

Hadfield Clearing is a unique site that provides a diverse learning environment for Golden Bay High School students. A former farm site, it has a small remnant kahikatea stand and is home to both the rare pāteke/brown teal and a major forest restoration project. The Awapoto River which flows through it, is a living lab where biology students can see freshwater ecology in action.

Students can earn NCEA credits for their learning and one class has even stayed overnight at the site. The release of pāteke / brown teal at Hadfield Clearing was special for students and local iwi – Manawhenua ki Mohua. Students have opportunities to be involved with feeding and monitoring of the these rare dabbling ducks, as more of them are released over time.


The students and their families have also helped plant many trees and flaxes at the site and, over time, will be able to watch the forest mature and know they were a major part of this restoration.


Wainui sandspit to Taupo Point

Motupipi Primary School has ‘adopted’ the section from Wainui sandspit through to Taupo Point – one of the park’s most culturally significant sites. The history and ecological diversity of this section of the park provides students with a rich learning opportunity.

The whole school is involved with the site, with students connecting their experiences in the park back to what they are learning in school. Students learn about plants, insects, native wildlife and pest animals on the sandspit; Some classes are involved with monitoring of bird species, weta and plants and comparing how they change year on year.

In 2016 they presented a site restoration plan to the Golden Bay community – an incredible undertaking for primary school students.

Wainui sandspit is a Fire Smart priority site and students and their families have also been working with DOC and Project Janszoon’s restoration supervisor to reduce the fire risk in the area.

They have helped remove flammable plants like gorse, planned and undertaken planting, and carried out weeding. It’s fantastic to see how well the school has embraced this site and the learning opportunities it presents.


Mārahau to Apple Tree Bay

While Lower Moutere School officially joined the education project in 2019 they have an ongoing relationship with this area of the park.

Since 2017 the school has been helping with dune planting at Porters Beach as part of Project Janszoon’s firesmart programme. Highly flammable weeds like gorse have been removed and dune plants like spinifex planted.

Marahau is the southern gateway to the Abel Tasman. The 40 minute walk to Tinline skirts the estuary with its salt-marsh flats and Porters Beach. This area is one of the best places in the park to catch a glimpse of the rare banded rail.

Students have also been involved in monitoring native freshwater fish, plants and wētā.

They are the first school to have taken on monitoring a trap line in conjunction with the  Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.

Dedicated students and teachers give up their weekends to check and clear the traps and were rewarded with their first stoat kill in 2023.


Bark Bay

Ngatimoti School joined the education programme in 2019 and adopted Wairima/Bark Bay as its special place in the park. This area encompasses a large estuary and was the site of a Māori settlement. 

It was named Bark Bay because the area was settled in 1870 by the Huffam family who harvested trees to use the bark in the tanning of hides and fishing nets. Wairima is the Māori name, meaning the hand-like channels leading inland from the estuary.

Ngatimoti School students have been very involved in the kākā releases at Bark Bay in 2019, studying the native parrots in class. They are already monitoring the stream next to school and have plans to monitor water ways at their site and also help with planting in the dune areas.

Ngatimoti are one of our busiest schools, visiting the Park every term, thanks to Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle. The School takes a yearly focus approach with al classes investigating the same subject.

Topics have included birds, plants, invertebrates, fungi, marine metre squared, and litter intelligence surveys. They also use every opportunity to link other areas of learning into the park.

Waimea College

Te Pukatea

Waimea College joined the programme in 2022, and hit the ground running, despite the restrictions of Covid 19.

Since then they have focused on their SAVE programme using the Park as an outdoor classroom. Year 9 and 10 students have monitored invertebrates, plants and their marine environment. One of the highlights has been exploring their wetland and investigating the impact of browsing animals on native forest regeneration in the Park. 

Students have been making weta motels and installing these at their site. They have also been generous in providing them at other schools adopt a section sites around the Park.

Waimea College was the first school to use cameras to monitor for pest animals like pigs and deer in their site, to help them identify the threats to the ecosystem.

They enjoyed using camera so much that they teamed up with Project Janszoon Director Bruce Vander Lee to investigate stoat presence at their site using cameras and motolures. Students are using the imagery as part of their research and learning. 



Launched in 2014, the Abel Tasman Youth Ambassador/Pokai Rangatahi (ATYA) programme is fostering the next generation of conservation leaders.
Students from each of our Adopt a Section partner schools apply annually to become ATYA members, with four representatives chosen from each school and two iwi representatives nominated by Te Awhina and Onetahua maraes.  
ATYA students meet at regular events during the year, including a summer and winter overnight retreat in the park. As well as team building and leadership training, they enjoy hands-on learning such as fish monitoring, animal tracking, spotlighting, tree planting and discovering the special places in the park.

As youth ambassadors the students get opportunities to represent the Abel Tasman in a range of forums including the Sir Peter Blake Trust’s Youth Environmental Leadership Forum and Department of Conservation national youth hui.  

Teacher and iwi representatives are an important part of the programme so special thanks must go to Mark Mackenzie, Adele Fordyce, Mike Brien, Anna Ellworthy, Ross Fitzsimmons and Lauren Milnes for their time and expertise to ensure the success of ATYA.


Golden Bay High ATYA 2023: Hunter Holmwood, Phoebe Mulry-Climpson, Aliana Bowden, Briar Culverwell. Missing Tane Ward-Holmes.
Motupipi School ATYA 2023: Hendrix Elworthy, Mori McCuskey, Jett Whiting, Sam Homes
Motueka High School ATYA 2023: Connor Haldane, Annabelle Schaffer, Livinya Jayasinghe, Fern Leenhouwers, Zahli Greenhough. Missing: Kyarn Piggott.
Lower Moutere School ATYA 2023: TK Howells, Seery Lynch, Zac Walker, Teacher Ross Fitzsimmons and Cordt Horrell
Ngatimoti School ATYA 2023: Ruby Mckay, Ella Piper, Lauren Milnes, Liam Eggers, Jack Clark
Waimea College ATYA 2023: Kiara Puche Struben, Hinekahurangi Tutapu. Missing Kiera Harwood.


ATYA 2022 crew: Pipiri Henderson, Jonah Bruce-Miller, Livinya Jayasinghe, Imogen Harris, Adele Fordyce, Milla Glasgow, Mark MacKenzie, Eric Lander, Kyarn Piggott, Lauren Milnes, Natasha Toon, Ross Fitzsimmons

Middle row: Ruby Maxwell, Gus Easton, Lilly-Sian Hopkinson, Filip Kotvas, Tessa-Rose Sheehan, Honoka Kinoshita, Ai Takahashi, Hendrix Elworthy, Mori McCuskey, Ella Piper, Emma Neumann, Mike Brien

Bottom row: Kaisami Beatson, Johanan Abbot Netana, Ayaka Sugihara, Malika Gall, Iyla Lamason, Maren Haldane, Riho Kawano

Missing Rylie Ward -Holmes, Emily Malcolm, Brooke Turne

ATYA 2021 crew: Rylie Ward -Holmes, Mrs Burger, Ali Turner, Eric Lander, Jude Cullen, Mark Mackenzie, Ross Fitzsimmons, Jane Sorensen,

Middle row: Elizabeth Egan, Brooke Turner, Chico Burger, Gabrielle Wards, Austin Rowling, Eloise Piozin-Belloir, Zahli Greenhough, Tui Buchanan, Alyssa Burt

Bottom row: Aliana Bowden, Mieke Rowling, Mitchell Winterburn, Saxon Bowden, Quinn Bowden, Madeleine Miller, Layla Rose Roberts, Ai Takahashi, Bradely Shields, Imogen Harris, Lucy Summerfield

Missing Fern Davies, Lauren Milnes

ATYA 2020 : Milan Chapman, Jane Sorensen, Kalahni Hassik,  Marleyah Bennett, Sophie Maxwell, Mia Cole, Riley Nelson-Knauf, Ai Takahashi, Bradley Shields, Lauren Milnes , Rylie Ward-Holmes
Middle row : Sanne Kiddle, Frankie Whiting, Layla Griffiths, Kian Lamason, Ashton Stevenson, Imogen Harris, Rhys Nesbit
Bottom row : Christoper Neumann, Leo Easton, Jude Cullen,  Saskia Gray, Lucy Summerfield, Thomas Schwarzenbach, Mark Mackenzie, Ross Fitzsimons
Missing   Brooke Turner

ATYA 2019 : Back row Helen Lindsay (PJ), Lily McRae, Jude Cullen, Thomas Schwarzenbach, Saskia Gray, Jane Sorensen, Lottie Stow, Mark MacKenzie, Ihaka Griffith, Oliver Gray, Ross Fitzsimmons, Milan Chapman, Bruce Vander Lee (PJ), Bradley Shields

Font rows Aonghus Garbutt, Moeka Koyama, Louis Brown, Hannah Whittaker, Rosie Brown, Lexus Wilson, Louie Burger, Lochie Child, Malika Gall, Pipiri Henderson, Brooke Turner (PJ), Lucy Shaffer, Brooke Perry, Mieke Rowling, Marleyah Bennett, Leo Easton

ATYA 2018: Back row – Ihaka Griffith, Mark MacKenzie (GBHS), Andrew Lamason – DOC, Joe Ogle, Saskia Grey, Ria Knoef, Milan Chapman, Thomas Schwarzenbach, Kye Childs 
Middle row – Helen Young, Heidi James (MHS), Pippa Struck. 
Front row – Tim Connell, Emily Connell, Bella Chamberlain, Aliana Bowden, Iyla Lamason May Takahashi.  Missing Shaye Oates, Brooke Turner (Project Janszoon) and Bev Purdie (Manawhenua ki Mohua)

ATYA 2017: Front row: Tarn Cahusac (MPS), Pippa Struck (GBHS)
Middle row: Helen Young (MPS), Maddie Bridge(MHS), May Takahashi (MHS), Arjuna Gall (MPS), Amalie Macready (MPS), Tara Morgan (MPS)
Top row: Bruce Vander Lee (PJ), Ivan Rogers (DOC), Joe Cunningham(MHS), Siti Jongkind (GBH), Jasper Turner (GBHS), Ihaka Griffith (GBHS), Mark Mackenzie GBHS
Missing: Heidi James (MHS), Brooke Turner (DOC), Beverley Purdie (MKM), Zion August (MHS), Tamu Emery (MHS)

ATYA 2016: Bottom row: Jack Haldane (MPS), Brooke Turner (DOC), Rhys Nesbit (MPS), Iris Garbutt (MPS), Helen Young (MPS), Noah Haerewa (GBHS)
Middle row: Rosie Brown (MPS), Hana Mason (GBH), May Takahashi (MHS),
Top: Bev Purdie (Manawhenua ki Mohua), Bob Purdie (Manawhenua ki Mohua), Kath Hindmarsh (Manawhenua ki Mohua)), Mark Mackenzie – (GBHS), Joe Cunningham (MHS), Dallas Bradley (GBHS), Conor Kennedy (MHS), Joe Ogle (GBHS), Wendy Reeve (PJ)
Missing: Awatea Teakura (MHS),

ATYA 2015: Jessie Childs (MPS), Chris Oakden (MPS), Clarissa Barham (GBHS), Dallas Bradley (GBHS), Halina Horn (MHS), Pippa Struck (MPS), Wendy Reeve PJ, Finn Wilson-Howarth (MHS), Yerren van Sint Annaland (GBHS), Tyler Goodall (MHS), Nari Casley (MHS), Heidi James (MHS), Rebecca Martin (DOC), Alex Oakden (MPS), Jack Balck (GBHS), Maria Deutch (DOC), Helen Young (MPS), Mark Mackenzie (GBHS)


“Being part of ATYA has been one of the best things I’ve ever done personally. It’s helped me grow as a leader, I’ve become a lot more confident.”

May Takahashi, Abel Tasman Youth Ambassador

“We’ve got a bach in Torrent Bay. Five years ago it was really dull, there was no life. But these days you wake up at 5am and you can’t get back to sleep because the birds are incredible, the bellbirds are going, it’s amazing.”

Milan Chapman, Abel Tasman Youth Ambassador

“ATYA has not only helped me in gaining knowledge in environmental areas but also has helped me to be more confident in myself, speaking to large audiences, developing better leadership skills.” 

Saskia Gray, Abel Tasman Youth Ambassador

“For me every kid takes home something different but they definitely get a stronger connection to the park, a stronger connection to nature and biodiversity.”

Brooke Turner, Project Janszoon Education Coordinator

 Thanks Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle has been a keen supporter of the education programme since the start, transporting Motueka High School students to their site at Anchorage, Ngatimoti School students to Bark Bay, and on occasion Lower Moutere students to Apple Tree Bay, and providing access for ATYA students to many areas of the park.  

Photos courtesy of Dave Buckton and Ruth Bollongino

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