Port of Auckland grant a welcome boost for Spirit of Adventure programme

May 6, 2024

Above: Anna Clarke is leading the environmental programme for rangatahi for the Spirit of Adventure Trust.

Rangatahi aboard the iconic Spirit of New Zealand not only learn about self-discovery but are now taking a deeper dive into understanding the marine environment.

The Spirit of Adventure Trust has enhanced its onboard environmental programme for its young sailors thanks to a grant from Te Moananui o Toi Restoration Trust which was established by the Port of Auckland and Protect Aotea last year.

The port will give $100,000 annually to the Te Moananui o Toi Restoration Trust for the next 15 years to support initiatives and postgraduate studies that enhance and restore the mauri of the Waitematā Harbour and te Moananui o Toi.

Spirit of Adventure Trust CEO Bruce Pilbrow says the grant has helped the trust to employ  Second Mate, Anna Clarke, who has an environmental science background. Anna joins rangatahi on each voyage and teaches them about marine life and harbour health.

“It is difficult to roll out a programme on a ship if you don’t have a champion onboard,” says Bruce. “This grant has allowed us to find our champion.”   

Anna grew up sailing in the Bay of Islands/ Pēwhairangi which is where her love for the environment grew. After gaining an environmental science degree, she worked on large infrastructure projects before joining the Spirit of Adventure Trust.   

“The biggest impact for environmental change is to get others to feel passionate about it and connect to it.

“What we aim to do is have a more intentional look at the environment rather than just being in it,” says Anna. “We are getting them to connect to the environment and their place in it.”

After an early morning swim around the ship and a karakia, Anna weaves environmental learnings into the day, such as understanding the impact of rising sea temperatures, water pollution and the importance of biodiversity.

“A lot of our young people have a lot of anxiety around the state of the environment but it is important they stay in touch with their feelings as this helps to drive action,” she says.  “It is amazing to see how many young people are passionate about the environment, but they are hungry for hope and cohesiveness on how to make a difference. It has been about leaving them feeling empowered. Showing them that when we come together over these shared issues, we have the power to create something amazing.”

Alistair Kirk from Port of Auckland and trustee for the Te Moananui o Toi Restoration Trust says the port is one of the largest users of the Waitematā Harbour, and taking care of it is paramount.

“It is fantastic to see the Te Moananui o Toi Restoration Trust come to life through the work of the  Spirit of Adventure Trust,” says Alistair. “Being out on the water is the best way to experience the importance of protecting our marine environment.  We are proud to be supporting the Spirit of Adventure Trust and the great mahi they do with young people.”