Students clean up Tahunanui Beach to aid in research


Last week Level 1 Geography students spent the day at Tahunanui Beach conducting geographic research.

A perfect winter day greeted our group as we arrived at the beach, with crisp air, clear skies and little wind. Students collected a range of data about the Tahunanui Beach environment, utilising fieldwork techniques such as field sketches and environmental quality surveys. 

The main focus of the data collection was to undertake a litter survey of two sites at the beach. The results of this survey will contribute to the Litter Intelligence programme, led by charity Sustainable Coastlines.

The aim of the Litter Intelligence programme is to build New Zealand’s first national litter database and help build a better understanding of the problem of litter on our coastlines. Litter was collected from two 100m by 20m survey areas on the day and bagged for analysis back at school. 

Analysing the litter involves conducting a litter audit. Students grouped the items of litter into different categories and then recorded the item count and total weight of the items in each category. The results of our two surveys can be found at: Tahunanui Beach Rocks Road and Tahunanui Beach – Sand Spit.

Image by: Amanda Kirkham

 Part of the student’s research involves investigating people’s perceptions of litter at Tahunanui Beach. Please complete this quick survey to help students gain an insight into the perception of litter at Tahunanui Beach.

Lily Waikaira, a Year 11 student who went on the trip, said she learnt a lot about how the environment down on the beach is symbiotic. 

“We learnt about the dune vegetation and why it is important to be there for the beach,” Lily said. “If there are no dunes, the saltation of the sand moves, and if the dunes are there it can block the sand going further up by the playground.”

It also helped her understand the importance of looking after the environment.

“It puts more perspective on how much rubbish there actually is,” she said.

A big thank you to Rick Field, Nelson Enviroschools Facilitator, for helping us with the litter survey and audit. Thank you also to Ben Knight, Sustainable Coastlines Programme Coordinator, for providing training and ongoing support to allow the research to happen.  

By Glenn Cheyne, Amanda Kirkham and Nathan Gargiulo