Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.
Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.
- A “public-private partnership” is when a government or council-run group works with a group of citizens or a privately-run business. They both put in money and time to achieve a common goal. What might this be a good model? Can you think of any potential pitfalls?
- The island includes a variety of planting and landscape. There is “plantation forest, farmland, native bush and thick scrub, folded into high peaks and deep valleys and pocked with volcanic caves.” Can you picture each of these? For example, what trees might be in plantation forest? What is the difference between native bush and thick scrub?
- By the time rats had been on Great Mercury Island for about 700 years, DOC described them as being at “plague proportions.” Did you know that rats could cause these kinds of problems: “Rats were jumping into beds with the farm manager’s children, eating through the wiring in the bathroom and wreaking structural damage on farm buildings”?
- Two of the photos show conservation dogs at work on the island. Did you know there are dogs specially trained to help DOC workers? Some help find pest animals, others help find endangered species. What kind of dogs do you think are the best at this work, and what kind of training might they be given?
- The Mercury Island tusked wētā is described as “cryptic and carnivorous.” What do we learn about it from this description? This species is one of the rarest invertebrates in the world – why do you think it isn’t more famous?
Activity: Make a wasp trap
It’s a good idea to keep on top of wasp populations so that bees and other pollinators can do their work – helping to make sure we have lots of feijoas and other fruit! This simple home-made wasp trap is easy to put together.
You will need:
- An empty drink container or similar bottle, with funnel neck
- Meat scraps
Step One: Cut around the bottle just where the neck starts to taper. Sit the neck facing downwards into the bottle. Tape these together. Puncture the sides of the bottle and tie string through on either side to create a handle.
Step Two: Place some meat scraps (we used cat food) in the bottom of the bottle as bait. Add some water so that the wasp will drown when it goes after the bait. (In late summer, wasps switch to looking for sugar, but in spring and early summer they are looking for protein as they build their nests.)
Step Three: Hang your trap from a tree or structure a good distance from the places you hang out with your family. Check your trap regularly to see if it is catching anything – it might be worth trying a few different locations if you don’t have any luck. Wasps tend to favour sunny places.