FROM ZERO TO HERO | Danyon Robertson

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Matuku link is a critical connection in a wider ecological corridor, linking Ark in the Park to Matuku Reserve and Habitat Te Henga, amongst rural/residential properties nestled within the Waitakere Ranges. The site is dominated by vast terrestrial forest, with steep landform transitioning to alluvial flats towards its southern point, remnants of the expansive Te Henga Wetland; The largest in the Auckland Region.

The Matuku Link Trust, which is in the process of acquisition through extensive fundraising, aims to reinstate this wetland, conserve and protect the critically endangered wildlife that chooses to inhabit it and educate the wider community on the importance placed in this. This is all to be realized through ongoing restoration efforts, and developing an educational facility that will act as a conservation hub in the area; with a focal point being the protection and incubation of New Zealand’s critically endangered indigenous species and ecosystems.

The purpose of this ‘small’ project was to explore the potential of a developed and in-depth educational experience for people visiting Matuku Link. This will be achieved through a long-term educational strategy providing theory and tactile opportunities to practice hands-on skills and see the development of a multi-generational connection to the site.

The project encourages an exploration of how education can be embodied at the ‘Link’ through the eyes of a developed persona; a unique and continual visitor experience securing long-term ecological, financial and cultural resilience of Matuku Link.

The ‘From Zero to Hero’ concept is one that reflects the result of an in-depth educational journey facilitated by Matuku Link. At the beginning of the journey, a primary school student will have almost no knowledge or experience in ecological enhancement and conservation, let alone the resources required to maintain such strategies - represented by ‘Zero’. However, as the student grows both physically and mentally, the opportunity to engage and be involved with Matuku link will also grow; the opportunity to participate in said ecological enhancement and conservation. In extension to this, as an adult, the then volunteer will be able to influence change for the better and maintain financial, cultural and ecological channels to ensure Matuku Link’s long-term resilience.The result; an ecological hero who safeguards their local environment for future generations.

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Pedagogy Strategy

Teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation - J Burner

Connection toward Matuku Link will begin with primary-school-aged children, who are generally more receptive and keen to learn and more importantly, will form the long-term support base in supporting the sites ecological, financial and cultural resilience.

Motivation may also be realized through high intakes in community education workshops which will involve adults, or through a wider family interest in their own child’s connection to the site through primary school. This offers a unique opportunity to fast forward the proposed long-term vision of multi- generational involvement in supporting Matuku Link.

Exposition

Exposition should be delivered to fuel students motivation, not dampen it,strengthening attitude toward the willingness to learn about the significant importance of ecological enhancement and conservation at Matuku Link. This is imagined to be delivered in the revamped education center on site and out in the wetland, to improve stimulation and visually connect theory and practice. This will enhance the child’s personal responsibility in action, and in doing so deepens their personal connection to the site.

Direction of Activity

After the exposition, the ability to interact with the site to put in practice what students have learned should again add another layer of connection to Matuku Link. This increases the pupils understanding of obtained knowledge.This is envisioned to be achieved at different levels across the students level of

study and partnerships. In primary school, the student will only likely plant a seedling and observe ecological processes, but toward high-school and tertiary level, intensive projects and research could be facilitated using the unique environment as a study site.

Criticism & Evaluation

Regular feedback from students and other stakeholders will be valuable in the constructive conversation around how this long-term vision could be better or more effectively realized. It is a key element in valuing students and volunteers efforts and shaking things up to keep them interested and involved.

This evaluative process could be realized in feedback sessions, more creatively through student-led strategic development, or through change inspired by tertiary research conducted on site. Partnerships will be instrumental in the future of Matuku Link.

Inviting Imitation and Manipulation

Imitation is vital in the long-term knowledge dissemination strategy, with generational shifts allowing for a parent to pass knowledge down to their offspring and their offspring to theirs, following a continuum. Imitation may also occur in more basic forms such as high school students mentoring primary students or volunteers conversing with the public.

To visualize this journey in a fun way, and in keeping with a younger target- audience, a comic book style presentation was produced. The comic follows eco-warrior ‘Jaime Stevenson’, from primary school to grandfather-hood, and his life of dedication to, and enjoyment of, Matuku Link. The comic is representative of the in-depth educational journey of future Matuku Link visitors; a fun interpretation realized through a multigenerational lens. See next pages.

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