Kiwi kids get up close with marine life

Kiwi kids get up close with marine life

While life's a beach for many Kiwis, some kids have never had a face-to-face encounter with a fish, but a marine conservation organisation is trying to change that.

For some kids, a trip to Mathesons Bay in north Auckland is the first time they've ever got up close and personal with life under the sea, while others haven't felt the sand between their toes before.

"We've got kids who have never been to the beach. It just blows their mind," says Lorna Hefford from non-profit trust Experiencing Marine Reserves.

The free programme has been rolled out across eight regions in New Zealand from the Far North to Otago. It's so far taken 30,000 students to the sea.

In summer the trust is flat-out.

"The wetsuit doesn't get dry; let's put it that way," says Ms Hefford.

The programme was set up more than a decade ago and aims to teach children about life under the sea.

"If they don't love it, they don't know to protect it," says Ms Hefford.

There are safety benefits too.

"They're getting a bit more water confident, learning about the marine life at the same time and how to clean it up," says Brett Munro from Reremoana School.

Below the surface the budding snorklers got a glimpse of another world.

It's a life-enhancing, perhaps life-changing experience for these kids, born out of one simple but well-chosen act of kindness.

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