To the end of the year, a common occurrence on the island of Mana is the visitation of schoolies. A group of ten students from Wairoa College in New Zealand were one of the recent schoolies on the island. This group of students were here taking time out from busy modern school terms utilising their break relaxing in a peaceful surrounding.

Wairoa College is located in Hawks Bay, New Zealand. The group consisted of children around the age of 12-13years old. Speaking with one of their teacher, Ms Courtney said that all those kids knew a few things about the sea because they live near the coast. They go out fishing and do a lot of swimming. And they are also from science background.

In their time here in Fiji, they have spent the first four days in a village. They stayed at Vunaqoru Village in Nadroga where they were treated by the locals with warming hospitality. After conducting a few activities in the village they headed to Mana Island as their final destination before they return to New Zealand.

MES had the opportunity once again to mentor the group and facilitate with the environmental aspects of their activities on the island. The program started off with a short environment presentation by MES in the conference room. Students were divided up into three groups and were named with Maori names accordingly: “Rangatira” meaning leaders, “Aroha” meaning love and “Patu” which is a Maori weapon.

During the presentation, time was given for discussions and it was very interesting as student participated in it very well. Both teachers also gave the students a bit of a classroom situation asking the students many interesting questions about the presentation in which they were being assessed on.

After the presentation, we conducted coral planting. All students were interested and could not wait to get their hands dirty. With a short coral planting technique presented by MES, each student were given chance to plant coral fragments onto the coral cookies. After all coral fragments were planted; the group were taken on board a transfer boat which took them to the nursery for a complete perspective on how the coral table is being laid on the preserved area.

Furthermore, a turtle pond tour was conducted. The four species of turtles are all endangered in Fiji. With an effort to conserve turtle population and health, Mana is running a turtle rescue pond which has now become a hit with guests and visiting students alike.. Student got to see for themselves how Mana Island and with the assistance provide by MES, creates one of a sustainable effort of protecting sea turtles. With a few hatchlings and few adults, students came to know that because of over harvesting of these unique marine creatures for commercial and consumption purposes; their population has been threatened to a stage of being endangered.

Moreover, from the turtle pond, the group was taken on a desalination plant tour. Talking to the group, Mr Suka who is the head of the maintenance department at the Mana Island Resort & Spa explained to the students how sea water is being treated to safe drinking water at the plant before it is being distributed to every room on the island. Students were amazed to hear that the water they consume is drawn straight from the sea, and then salt is extracted on this site with all purifications done before it is distributed. “Interesting fact to know,” said one of the students.

From the desalination plant, students went on to see how waste is being treated at the islands own sewage plant. With important roles played by the two known bacteria, they function to treat waste and also do a great job keeping the smell of the sewage system in an acceptable level.  In addition to that, the sewage treatment plant is contained and well looked after by hard working staffs of the maintenance department.

Finally, our last stop was at the islands organic farm. The group gave positive feedbacks on the practice of organic farming. It is a way of saving resources which could be adapted by any individual to increase knowledge of sustainable farming. With varieties of vegetables and common staple foods, the organic farm provided all of which is being used in every meal at the hotel.

The tour finished off with a sighting of a  new found Fiji banded iguana which is being kept  in a cage at the island plants nursery site. This species of iguana is one of the few found outside of the new world and is being widely endemic here in the Fiji Islands. After the half day activity, it was time for lunch and the students were treated to a wonderful nice Mana BBQ buffet menu.