Impacts in response to a Reef-Keepers programme on Aitutaki, Cook Islands, in 2015, 2016 and 2017 took many forms. Among the highlights:

  • Aitutaki Reef-Keepers (AR-K) received full endorsement from the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources, Ministry of Tourism, Aitutaki Conservation Trust, local school principals, and the greater Aitutaki community.
  • Private and corporate donations to Reef-Keepers over a two-month period in 2017 totalled over NZ$45,000. Special thanks are due to Spencer Winn at TransNet Ltd. Mr. Collin Hill, the Robert L. & Mary J. Bartlett Foundation, and many others.
  • Over two months in 2017, the AR-K Team taught 537 tourists how to prepare and plant over 300 coral fragments, and plant 126 native giant clams. Photo link
  • There was a 5-fold increase in visitors to the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre (AMRC), the organisation hosting a Reef-Keepers programme. Photo link
  • Visitors from Realswim Adventures generously donated 10 sets of masks and snorkels to the AR-K programme, meaning that students visiting from Whangarei school could get into the water to plant corals. Photo link
  • Estimates for coral survival after 72 hours was approximately 75%. After 6 weeks, survival of juvenile clams was well above 90%. Photo link
  • Twelve local school students gained practical experience in science education, IT, marketing communications, photography, construction, accounting, and ecotourism.
  • Reef-Keepers concepts and methodologies were incorporated into New Zealand’s NCEA standards for Environmental Sustainability – Science.
  • Positive results of the AR-K programme supported a grant application to the Cook Islands Global Environment Facility / Small Grants Programme for up to NZ$50,000.
  • Educational materials: Multi-lingual media commercials, FAQ handouts, promotional videos, and species-specific FAQ science sheets. Video link
  • A presentation to students at Waiheke High School, New Zealand, about the AR-K programme resulted in an expression of interest to restore declining local kelp forests by introducing kelp starts grown in the school laboratory. Photo link