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Published: 2004-03-03 00:00:00

The Waikato Region’s environment will be the venue for fun and exploration this month when the sixth annual Festival of the Environment gets underway.

Environment Waikato, Taupo, South Waikato, Hamilton City, Franklin and Waipa councils, with the Department of Conservation have joined with local organisations to create more than 40 events across the Region from March 12-21.

Co-ordinator Kim Macrae Jonson says the festival will be a chance to find out more about the Region’s special places, understand the pressures threatening the environment and discover what can be done at home and work to make a difference.

The launch event for the Festival is Environment Waikato’s Great E-Scape on March 13 and 14, a two-day environmental adventure which starts in Taupo early on Saturday morning and travels to Hamilton with 20 teams of four people competing for prizes. The teams will have to demonstrate their environmental knowledge along the way.

Interest has flooded in from enthusiastic competitors, most aged 19-30 and all with a keen interest in their environment and doing something to understand and enhance it.

“We’re really pleased with the response we’ve had,” Ms Macrae Jonson said.

Challenges in Taupo highlight stormwater, rubbish and boat sewage and the tasks, which include vehicle emission testing, a car wash challenge, inventing a stormwater sign, rafting out into the Lake to collect rubbish and motorised loo racing should be heaps of fun to watch.
“We hope people will head down to the Two Mile Bay Lakefront Reserve and cheer the teams on when the E-scape kicks off at 7am on Saturday March 13,” she said.

Taupo District Council has also organised a wine and cheese networking evening for people working in the environment.

In Tokoroa free vehicle emission testing for petrol and diesel vehicles will be available between 11.30am and 2pm on Saturday March 13 at the reserve on the corner of Roslin Street and O’Sullivan Drive. There’ll be a display of, and prize giving for, tarpaulin art created by local schools from 11.30am-2.30pm and another of the Great E-scape challenges – wood sorting – will take place from 2.30pm-3pm at the same reserve.

Other events throughout the Region include bush walks, tramps, bush walks, tours of revegetation sites in Franklin, Ngaruawahia, Huntly and Rangiriri, clean-ups and working bees, night walks on Mt Pirongia and Mt Maungatautari, a hands-on composting workshop, tour of an environmentally friendly earth home, a trout fishing contest, flax weaving and hangi, an evening at the Otorohanga Kiwi House and an environmental youth conference.

A diary of all events throughout the Region is included in Environment Waikato’s current EnviroCare magazine, from Taupo and South Waikato district councils and on the web – www.explorefestival.co.nz.