Kuranui College’s Outdoor Education Academy (KOEA) recently relocated from Woodside near Greytown to the Tauherenikau Racecourse on the banks of the Tauherenikau River.
This move has given the college’s outdoor education facilities a major boost with extra accommodation, good access to the river for rafting and kayaking and additional space for exciting new activities like blokarting.
Invented in Papamoa, Blokarting is a form of land yachting and teaches the students how to harness the power of the wind. It has been quick to gain popularity around the world and Gladstone Primary School is the first student group in the Wairarapa to try out this innovative outdoor activity.
Students from Gladstone Primary School enjoy the thrill of Blokarting
“Learning how to blokart can lead on to sailing, gliding and flying,” explained Head of KOEA, Glenn Beach. “I was blown away (no pun intended) at the enthusiasm of the students. Many of the students did not want to stop for morning tea or lunch, they were having too much fun!”
The students also took part in kite flying sessions utilising special kites which are used in training for extreme sports such as kite surfing, skiing, boarding and buggying. The kites have a tremendous amount of “pull” and are designed to provide lift and drag, which is needed when participating in these types of extreme sports.
“Although the day was not particularly windy, the students experienced exhilarating flying with the kites measuring up to 3m wide. The blokarting and kites programme has been hugely successful and is being enjoyed by all ages, including the students, parents and teachers,” stated Mr Beach. “Without the generous support of the Wairarapa Racing Club, Wairarapa Gliding Club, Rotary Club of South Wairarapa and local farmer Mr David Donald, the students would not have had the opportunity to try out these exciting new sports.”
You can find out more about Kuranui’s Outdoor Education Academy (KOEA) at www.koea.co.nz.
Social media is the secret weapon in the battle against retailers who choose to sell synthetic cannabis, it was agreed by many of the attendees at the recent public meeting held at Kuranui College. Parents, local councillors, the police, and social and health agencies attended the meeting organised by the South Wairarapa college to discuss mounting concerns over the accessibility and the legal issues surrounding the use of synthetic cannabinoids in the local community.
South Wairarapa Sergeant Kevin Basher, South Wairarapa Deputy Mayor Viv Napier, Kuranui Principal Geoff Shepherd, Manawanui Lowe Kaimahi from Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa Inc and Care NZ Drug and Alcohol Counsellor Teresa Ahipene, who attended the recent public meeting.
Kuranui College Principal Geoff Shepherd stated that the community had a very real problem. “There is a very small minority of students who have access to these synthetic drugs and we’re seeing the residual effects of their influence during school time, which clearly impacts on these students’ learning and development. It is a community issue and we need a community strategy to combat this problem,” he said.
Care NZ Drug and Alcohol Counsellor Teresa Ahipene provided the gathering with information about the synthetic drugs, explaining that students reported that they felt the effects were stronger than cannabis, with worse side effects which may last for many months after the user had stopped taking the drugs.
Users are understood to display a dissociative state, which ranges from a detachment from reality and loss of time and place, to mild psychosis and aggression. Other effects include a dry mouth, rapid pulse rate, itchy skin, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety and in many cases, severe paranoia and phobic behaviour.
Mrs Ahipene highlighted the fact that these products are chemical in nature and are not intended for human consumption. “They are sold in really attractive, colourful packages so they can be very appealing to young people. There’s very little information available as to the long-term effects of their use, so when young people are choosing to use these drugs they are putting their physical and mental health at risk and we don’t know if these effects are permanent,” she explained.
“However, it’s reassuring to see that many of our young people are choosing not to get involved or are discontinuing their use because of the risks and the impact seen on their peers,” she added. Health care professionals at the meeting agreed that social media appeared to be one way in which young people shared their negative experiences and their thoughts around the risks.
The drugs are often marketed as herbal incense or as a herbal smoking product and are therefore perfectly legal. However, it is illegal for those youngsters under 18 years of age to purchase them, so the police do at least have some power to prosecute and fine retailers who sell directly to children. This does not prevent older people from buying and supplying to underage users.
Several members of the meeting felt that because the drugs are very cheap and sold in dairies, youngsters believe that they must be O.K., so a crucial priority for communities is to remove their accessibility.
As synthetic cannabinoids are not covered under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Temporary Class Drug Notices are currently the only way to regulate their sale. The notices are issued on substances rather than the commercial product, meaning that all products that contain those substances effectively become banned. However, as soon as one substance is banned, the synthetic cannabis manufacturers change the ingredients slightly and remarket the product.
This is set to change in August when a new body, the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority, begins supervising a new legislation requiring manufacturers to prove that any psychoactive substance is no more than “low risk” before it is sold. This will involve pre-clinical and human clinical testing to be paid for by the manufacturers themselves and is estimated to cost in the region of $2 million per substance. They would also have to list their ingredients, standard doses and provide health and safety messages.
Mr Shepherd, as Principal of the local secondary college, has already written to the dairies in the region which are allegedly selling the drugs. He asked them to consider the risks posed to young people and asked them not to stock these products.
Featherston Councillor Solitaire Robertson suggested that the region should aim to become synthetic cannabis free. A very effective method appears to be in the use of Facebook posts. A number of parents explained how they were spreading the word by sharing posts about individual retailers who are apparently selling the drugs. This ‘name and shame’ tactic is aimed at “hurting these businesses in the pockets”. Community Constable Dean Fawcett said a positive method would be to support those retailers who display the “We choose not to sell synthetic cannabis” posters that are distributed by the police. Other ideas were to form a parent support group and hold information sessions with other community groups.
Those present were delighted that people had made the effort to attend the meeting, but felt there were many more people in the community who may have been put off by the public forum. “We need to get the message to the youth in our community and this needs to be done through a different forum, perhaps through using our young community leaders, such as our local rugby club captains or young musicians who have a good rapport and will be listened to by our youngsters,” suggested Mr Shepherd.
Mrs Ahipene said it was also important that parents ensure that they are aware of the possible impact of these drugs on their children and that they had conversations with their children at home so that they were able to ask questions and know where to go to find help.
If a parent requires more information on where to obtain advice or help, they should contact their child’s school counsellor, check out carenz.org.nz or call Teresa Ahipene at Care NZ (Wairarapa) on 0800 208 427.
One of Robyn Moran’s first endearing memories of her Kuranui College Principal Sam Meads was when he was completing one of his frequent rounds of the classrooms. He noted her name on her homework notebook that she had regimentally placed on the right hand side of her desk. “You’re Pip’s daughter, aren’t you?” he enquired. That was 50 years ago and with Meads quickly establishing a rapport with the apprehensive new student, so began a life-long friendship between the pair until his death in 1987.
“He would always ring me up during the Varsity holidays to keep up to date with his ex-students, as I was still in contact with a lot of my old school friends,” explained Moran.
“He was a larger-than-life personality and his baggy old shorts meant he was often mistaken for the gardener. He lived for the school and knew everyone’s name. I can still hear him asking students to ‘pull their socks up’ and ‘caps on’,” she said.
Robyn returned to Kuranui seven years ago and is now teacher in charge of Kuranui’s Learning Support Centre. Along with ex-student Barbara Playle, they are organising next month’s Matariki Dinner at the college.
“Most of my class have left the Wairarapa and many of them have taken positions around the world. The Matariki Dinner is an opportunity to bring some of them back together. We all have really good memories of the school and it will be really good to catch up with everyone again,” she acknowledged.
Local musician Pat McKenna is MC for the evening and is planning ways to recapture the nostalgia of the time. “He is looking to set some of our stories to songs based on Gilbert and Sullivan.
“During the 60’s the college attracted a student roll of 850 and there were then a lot of dairy farms and dairy factories in the area. Things are a little bit different now and of course there is a lot more technology,” she stated.
Moran is quick to stress that the dinner is not a class reunion, but a chance for all past pupils and friends of Kuranui to get together and enjoy an evening at the college. The event kicks off at 6pm with drinks in the library, where there will be a display of old photos and other memorabilia. “So if anyone has any photos or other things related to college life then please get in touch.”
The Matariki Dinner will be held in Kuranui Auditorium on Saturday 13 July, drinks at 6pm. Tickets $75. For information contact Robyn Moran on 06 304 9116 x729 or Barbara Playle on 06 377 5566.
Year 7 and 8 students from Greytown School don’t have far to travel to enjoy their weekly technology lessons. It’s just a few minutes’ walk or a very short bus ride down East Street to the South Wairarapa’s Kuranui College, to join the college’s technology teachers.
Kuranui Greytown Tech – Izzy Sinnema works on the metal of her inner safe box.
Kuranui is not only nearby, but the college also works closely with the primary school to run an integrated programme. “We work in with what they are doing at school, so this term the primary students are studying ‘Surviving Disasters’. We’ve built our programme around things that will help them survive in situations like fire and earthquakes,” explains Kuranui Head of Technology Doug Juggins.
“The classes are split into three groups with one of them concentrating on making ‘fire grenades’. In Japan they are called ‘Fire Mickeys’ because a lot are shaped like Disney characters especially Mickey Mouse. They’re full of baking soda and salts and when you throw them into a fire it produces CO2, which helps puts the fire out. It’s something you could have in your bedroom, if the bedroom catches fire you throw it at the ceiling and it will give you a split second longer to get out.
“Another group is sewing ‘grab bags’, which can be used for those essential things like passports, money and cards. It was an idea that came from a fire I had attended. The people had grab bags, which they grabbed when they fled the house, and I thought wow that’s a good idea!
Kuranui Greytown Tech – Meghan Appelman stitches her ‘grab bag’
“Our third group is making metal fire proof safes. They’re essentially document-holders, a box inside a box. The first box expands from heat sealing the special lid, so the documents inside the inner box stay safe,” he said.
Kuranui Principal Geoff Shepherd is delighted to see the relationship between the two schools go from strength to strength. “Kuranui can offer both the expertise and the facilities and it gives intermediate students a chance to be in a college environment before they move onto secondary school. There is some outstanding work going on between the schools to ensure that the integrated technology programme is both meaningful and fun. It’s a great example of the strong partnership between the two schools.”
Kuranui Greytown Tech – Caleb Jones and Stanley Archibald drill holes for rivets in the metal safe boxes