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  • Writer's pictureChica Jo

Return to the Wild West Coast!

Kim McPherson, the energetic and super-busy manager of Hokitika’s National Kiwi Centre,

loving mom, and dear friend, took the time to drive the now super-long Velvet back to the schools she and I visited together exactly one year ago when Velvet was merely 5 meters of head and tail, and the body (that is now over 80 meters long and growing) was just a dream in many hearts.

 I remember having Kim hold up the head of Velvet while I ran with the tail across the schoolyards to show the kids how long she could get if everyone did their bit. Here is what Kim shared about the re-visit she took without me:

“What a day that was when I drove back up to Runanga school – I had such an emotional roller coaster during my drive up there.  I thought about our journey one year ago and I had this amazing sense of “humbleness” to be taking this precious piece of artwork to the school where it all began.  Tears and laughter all the way.  Many of the same children still were there and it was a lovely time there especially with teacher Joy Baker.”

Here is 9-29March12 is Runanga’s schools newsletter with Velvet…check it out!

Kim continues to share about her Velvet visits:

“I then went on the Paroa school – what a welcome! The entire school got out and helped unload and lay out Velvet – one student got on the roof of the building to take a picture and couldn’t get her all in the photo!  The students walked and looked with such enthusiasm around the eel and pointed out the various creatures – Jodi the teacher that helped drive the project in the end (Priscilla who began it has left), was in awe of the size and work that has gone into it….

….The next morning, we got 20 DOC staff (the other 80 were too busy doing beach clean-ups and cutting tracks), from Buller (quite fitting for Velvet), and we held her up (well most of her) along the banks of the Hokitika River. The staff were amazed at the work and the educational value of the project. They thought the idea was wonderful and were fully supportive.  We even got all 20 of them to come around and see the giant longfin eels at the National Kiwi Center afterwards – most had never been here.  The newspaper got a photo and it will feature next week…. ….Finally, Sue Asplin from DOC will head with me and Velvet to Kaniere and Kokatahi schools…. This has been such an amazing pleasure, and the people I’ve met are amazing too – THANKS TO ALL OF US INVOLVED!”

Indeed, how inspiring to see that when all of us do our bit that we can make huge and amazing things happen.  “Cheers” to Kim and all the wild and crazy west coasters for their enthusiasm.  And, if it’s been a while since you visited the Kiwi Center in Hokitika, you should go.  Not only can you see kiwi, tuatara, and taniwha-sized eel, but they have been working on displaying more of New Zealand’s endemic and migratory native freshwater fish!  Thanks for all you do for freshwater education Kim!!!

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