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Opaki School and Velvet Visit Pukaha-Mt. Bruce Longfins

Thanks to the D.O.C.  folks at Pukaha Mt. Bruce I was granted some solo time with the big girls in the river… feeding them right off a spoon and petting them all…. lifting them and feeling their weight as they gently slid through my hands…. so calm and powerful.  They felt like ancient velvet. Unfortunately, to migrate out to sea, these eels will have to swim through some of the most polluted waters in NewZealand due to the Wairarapa’s heavy use of fertilizers due to farming.


Heaps of Female Tuna Kuwharuwharu


Later, the Opaki School kids and their teachers and many involved and enthusiastic parents spent the day there with me working on the tapestry.  So many people pitched in to make the day an overwhelming success.  Gill Stewart organized everything and facilitated kinetic activities beautifully.  Joe Potangaroa brought the ingredients for a wild-foods lunch, complete with paua, watercress, purple Maori potatoes (taewa), sweet little tawa berries and steamed pupu (snails) gathered from the local rock pools.  Yummy indeed!

One dad of a Opaki youngster spent a long time crafting this little bully for the tapestry:

As you can see from the pictures, everyone chipped in and they have a good start on their tapestry section.  What fun it was!

Here’s what Spencer, the kids’ teacher had to say:

“Last Friday, Room 3 attended a workshop with American author Stephanie Bowman. Stephanie is currently touring New Zealand to promote the plight of our Longfin Eels! She entertained students and parents with a creative story about the life of a longfin eel. Students were then involved in creating marine and freshwater creatures out of fabric to be sewn on to the body of an eel to create a giant eel tapestry. We then went to watch the eel feed (no toe nibbling this time), before heading back to say goodbye to Stephanie and then back to Opaki.

Thank you to Stephanie for her inspiration, Gill for her organization, Joe for the great kai and all the parents who helped on the day.”


The sewing begins...



Kids' thoughts on "If I were an eel, I would be..." thanks to Gill.




Lunchtime for the tuna kuwharuwharu with Joe Potangaroa who is bravely bare-legged.



See how Velvet can grow after just one day's sew!


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