In just over a week’s time, the children will be back in school but some of these little ones have been busy joining in a school holiday program with Oma Tafua and Aliutu Conservation.
Oma Tafua, a whale conservation NGO and Aliutu conservation school holidays program which ends this week, is teaching children about disaster risk reduction, planting windbreaker trees and fruit trees, and learning how to swim and learn water safety skills.
Founder of Oma Tafua and Aliutu Conservation Fiafia Rex took some of the children to Aliluki park this morning to plant windbreaker trees “We are teaching them about how they (trees) protect our coastlines, and because we are so vulnerable right now to the climate crisis as we saw recently with cyclone Zazu and Yasa, so we also instill in the children skills about disaster risk reduction.
What to pack in a go-bag, what are the emergency numbers and do they know where the evacuations are and things like that”
Ten year old Troy Tatui told us that today they are planting trees “Because we get oxygen from the trees and so Niue can stay green, not brown”.
Troy and his friend Valentino Tasmania were the diggers while the girls carried the plants and water them.
The exercise was also a history lesson for the children as they learned that the area they were planting trees at was the scene of devastation 17 years ago when Cyclone Heta wiped out most of the homes and buildings on that stretch of road.
Today they were planting more trees so that the wildlife like the coconut crabs (uga) which used to be plentiful in this area will return.
Fiafia Rex says that the school holidays program is reliant on volunteers and funding from the community and businesses and they are grateful for this support for the program.
She also credited local environmentalist Misa Kulatea for passing on his knowledge and teaching them about traditional flora and fauna especially for Aliutu conservation.
Ms Rex says that she is a marine biologist but her experience working previously with projects like Ridge to Reef and working with Misa has made her just as passionate about terrestrial conservation as she is about marine conservation.
BCN news also took part in the program planting a ‘selie’ tree and encourage the locals to plant native coastal trees to replenish the ones lost every time a cyclone affects the island.