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Kea with kids on skis

An educational resource package produced by the Kea Conservation Trust for teachers of students who have skiing days and lessons on South Island ski fields.
Copy of information as Word Doc  - click here
There are many ideas on the Kea Conservation Trust website in the educational resources, including NCEA options, to develop this distilled resource into studies for sustainability and curriculum integrated activities. It includes worksheets, and board games.  All curriculum achievement objectives and curriculum elements are outlined in this online resource.  It also includes an action planner from the Ministry of Education’s resources for Sustainability for developing any of the ideas below for a more in depth study. THIS IS A GOLDEN OPPPORTUNITY FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AT ANY LEVEL.
The KCT website offers many other resources for research and information, including DVDs, book lists and links.
The material below is simply a range of activities to enable children to be better prepared when they meet kea on ski fields, and to provide options for follow-up in the classroom in various curriculum areas.  They should be adapted by teachers to their desired level.   As a result it is hoped we establish a whole new generation of skiers and mountain recreationists who are advocates for kea as we strive to protect the few we have left.
1.    Pre Visit



Introduce children to DVDs available on line from the Kea Conservation Trust website.
Ideas to follow up:
  • List characteristics of kea – curious, intelligent, loyal, friendly, naughty, destructive etc. (Worksheets #6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15)
  • Talk about their natural environment and how clever they must be to survive the cold winters.  What other birds/insects in NZ can do that?  How do they manage to survive? – food, shelter, nesting. (worksheets #  4 A&B, 10 A&B, 13)
  • What would we need to be able to survive in their environment – special clothes, houses, goggles, transport etc.
  • This discussion can develop into talk about how we are visiting their home, and what happens when we visit other people’s homes  - draw out elements of respect and caring for others’ homes and members of their families.  Draw parallels for being with kea on the skifield.  (Worksheets # 11 & 13 draw out the respect aspects of the relationship with kea)
  • Food – talk about how we need to stop feeding them human food as it is not good for them and makes them too dependant on humans.  Make posters telling people not to feed kea.  Take posters to the ski fields if possible with the trip.  Practise role plays of children telling someone feeding kea about them and asking them not to feed the kea.  Hopefully they will have the courage to go up to other visitors on the skifield to talk to them in reality. (Worksheets 9 A&B, 13.)
  • Property – talk about how to protect clothing etc. from kea beaks.  Come up with ideas about how to protect cars from kea (e.g. bird netting across the roof)
  • Prepare an observation sheet to record the behaviour of kea. (Example included as Appendix I)
  • Likewise a simple observation sheet to observe the interactions of kea and people. i.e. Did people feed kea, shoo them away, take photos, talk to them, just watch etc.
  • Invite a DOC worker or KCT local to talk about kea. (contact the KCT for details of people who could help in your locality)


The primary activities to the left could be appropriate for secondary students as well.

Additionally, the following are Inquiry topics for secondary (and more capable primary students).
Refer to the KCT website for links to the Curriculum learning outcomes, and NCEA Achievement Objectives.  All can fulfil NCEA requirements. While the worksheets are generally aimed at lower levels, there may be some value in considering some of them as an introductory activity.
  • The current situation with kea populations in NZ.  Where are they?  What is their status? Are there problems?
  • The diet of captive kea compared to the natural diet.
  • The environment which is the kea’s natural habitat and the challenges it presents.
  • The unique features of kea, particularly their intelligence
Other activities:
  • Role play how to talk to someone they see feeding kea, or throwing things at them.
  • Prepare an observation sheet as for primary. (Appendix I for example.)
  • Likewise an observation sheet to observe the interactions of kea and people.
  • Prepare a questionnaire to use to ascertain people’s attitudes to kea.

2.    Visit: (choose as appropriate to level)
  • Take photos of kea in various situations.
  • Try out ideas for protection such as netting.
  • Talk to other people about kea and put into practise role plays if they see people feeding them or harassing them.
  • Observe behaviour of kea, using the  prepared observation sheet
  • Observe interactions of kea/people using the prepared observation sheet. 
  • Interview people about kea to ascertain their attitudes about kea.  Include visitors and staff. Find out what skifield staff see as the issues.  Ask for amusing kea stories from them.  Possibly video these interviews.
3.   Post Visit:



  • Make power point of visit using photos: what they have learned about kea and experiences with them.  Share with other classes and send to Kea Conservation Trust.
  • Children to further follow up by fundraising through mufti days, coin trails, to raise money for the Kea Conservation Trust.
  • School becomes members of the Kea Conservation Trust.
  • Go deeper into kea issues looking at breeding, threats beyond skifield issues (predators, lead, sheep, and perceptions).   Lots of ideas in the online resources for these.
  • School invites Department of Conservation staff or KCT locals to talk to children about their work with kea (this could be part of the pre-trip as well), and about how threats to kea are being addressed.
  • Look at survey results and make conclusions.  These could be displayed as statistics, or pictorially.  Draw conclusions, and make recommendations for the skifields, KCT and DOC.


Inquiry suggestions to follow up for secondary students.
Refer to KCT website to link to curriculum learning outcomes and NCEA achievement objectives.  Many of the activities outlined above can contribute to the work involved in the suggestions below.
  • Public perceptions about kea and the need for public education about kea to both citizens of, and visitors to, NZ.
  • The history of kea in the Southern Alps and their relationships with landowners and visitors since the area was first settled.
  • How media influence peoples perceptions about kea.
  • Human introduced hazards for kea populations and how they can be overcome.
  • Current trends in kea populations, projections as to what will be the result of action or no action.
  • Kea issues in a Southern Alp mountain community such as a ski field or Arthurs Pass village, and mitigation measures.
  • Creating new challenges and structures for kea in both captivity and the wild; to test learning and memory (intelligence) and compare between environments.
  • How schools and other educational institutions access information about conservation in general and kea particular.  Do they see it as important?
  • The range of perceptions people have about kea and the possible causes for these attitudes; their relationship to attitudes and values for other aspects of the environment
  • Investigate substances that repel kea to help in pest control in their habitat.
  • Construct a predator control devise that is kea proof.
  • Search for online data reports of trapping statistics in NZ and draw conclusions from this research as to trap popularity, effectiveness etc.  Find what is the dominant trap used in kea territories and why.
  • Create new challenges and structures for kea in both captivity and the wild; to test
learning and memory (intelligence) and compare between environments
  • The reporting phase of any of the inquiry suggestions in other curriculum areas could meet the requirements of the English achievement objectives listed.
  • Students could produce texts (stories, poems etc.) both factual and fictional, using kea as characters or concerning kea issues.
All completed work, in any media, would be appreciated by the Kea Conservation Trust, and may be included on line on their website, appropriately acknowledged.  Ski fields could also appreciate any posters etc. to add to their displays.
Note to compiler: The following worksheets from the on line resources are to be copied and included:  #s 4 A&B, 5, 6, 7, 9 A&B, 10 A&B, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
Kea Recording
Appendix I
Kea Skifield Observation Form
Name: _______________________School: ____________________
Location Name: __________________________________Ski Field
GPS co-ordinates or map reference______________________________(if available)
Date:   Identifying features:
Juvenile – yellow around beak and eyes, lighter olive green head
Adult – black instead of yellow, and head colour darker green
Male – he has a longer upper mandible (beak), and more commonly seen.
Female – her upper mandible (beak) is smaller than a male, and her body is slightly more delicate. Not often seen.
Number of Birds seen  
If possible, can you say how many were juveniles, adults, male or female? Juvenile
What were the birds doing? (scavenging, eating plants, eating cars, flying, fighting, etc.)
Descriptor #s
(see numbered list below), and comment if needed.
Weather Conditions and People Presence: (please note as many descriptors as required from the list below in the table above.)
1. Fine (no cloud)                      8. Snowing intermittently   15.  Warm ( 10 – 20oC)
2. Changeable (some cloud)     9.  Snowing constantly          16.  Hot (> 20oC)
3. Overcast (mostly cloud)     10. Snow on ground    17 Some people (between 10-50
4. No rain                                11. No wind               18. Many people (50 +)
5. Intermittent rain              12. Some wind                         
6. Constant rain                      13. Very windy                          
7. No snow falling                    14. Cold ( <10oC)
Further comments: e.g. bands/transmitters on birds:________________________________
This survey form could be scanned and emailed to the Kea Conservation Trust, Tamsin Orr-Walker,  or to Maree Goldring,, to add to the skifield winter survey data.  K


Nga Ratonga Kaupapa Atawhai CS No. CC25473.