As an initial disclaimer, I do not claim to be a parent. I do claim to be a ‘grown-up’ eco-kid. The following are things I experienced during my childhood that directly influence my actions and decisions as an adult.

Young eco-kid with a ferret

I was raised to be aware of my surroundings, to respect the Earth which we borrow from future generations. As an eco-kid I learnt the effects of small actions could make a large difference, particularly if many participate. Eco-kids join us as kaitiaki of Aotearoa and it’s unique environment during our time here.

I was set free into nature from the start. A bit of soil or mud never bothered me. Scavenger hunts in nature fostered an awareness for my surroundings. Building huts from scavenged materials like fallen branches encouraged ‘out of the box’ thinking.

We ventured out at least twice a year and contribute to community tree plantings. Seeing those trees later in life and knowing you planted some is rewarding, and a reminder of the difference a small action can make.

The beauty of flourishing forests and wildlife, comes with death. Pest control is necessary to restore the original balance of Aotearoa, and can be discussed in terms of the destruction just one animal can cause. Pest control can be conducted respectfully, ensuring little to no suffering.

I did pest control rounds on our property with my father from a young age. As soon as I was strong enough, I was taught how to set and safely release a Timm’s trap. Later I joined dad as a volunteer, refilling bait stations in the Hunua Ranges. The world is bigger than your own backyard, and someone has to stick their hand up to help take care of it. That was another important lesson.

A grown-up eco-kid in 2020

Building insect and skink hotels as a holiday project keeps kids outdoors and excited by nature, as they watch it being colonised. Remember that rats and possums will prey on wētā and skinks as well.

Teaching the names of common birds and plants in English and Maori fosters a respect for biodiversity. Remember, where there is one Kererū there is often a second one as they pair for life, which can become a game of ‘hidden pictures’ in real life.

There are many ways to fillet a fish – find the one that works within your lifestyle.