Writing for Wingspan

Room 8 visited Wingspan, the National Bird of Prey Centre, as part of the inquiry into taonga. As we have found out, these birds are precious treasures and more threatened than the kiwi. It was a treat to be able to see them up close and in action in Rotorua. 

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India and Zoey were enthralled, and slightly intimidated, by the kārearea up close.

There are only four birds of prey in New Zealand: the stunning kārearea / New Zealand falcon, the reserved ruru / morepork, the soaring kahu / Australasian harrier hawk, and a recent addition - the barn owl. We arrived at Wingspan on a stellar day, with views overlooking Lake Rotorua.

We wanted to show how much we appreciate the mahi Wingspan does, taking care of and bolstering the populations of our endangered birds of prey, and decided that we would research and write about the kārearea, New Zealand’s fastest bird. This would show what we had learned and gave our writing a real purpose. We wondered if Wingspan would be interested or display our work for visitors to enjoy.

Information reports

Upon our return, we wrote recounts of our visit. We used WWWWWH - what, who, where, when, why, and how - to help us plan our keywords in order to write the recounts.

First, Ribbon came out. She was a beautiful falcon. She stood on her perch. Her trainer Noel got a fake rabbit out with a piece of meat attached to it. It was on a lure. As soon as it moved, Ribbon flew fast. Her eyesight works slower than ours so she can fly faster to her prey. 

I just found out there are different types of kārearea. They are the Bush falcon, Eastern falcon and Southern falcon.

Next, Star came out and they got out a remote control magpie and Star chased it. She was not as fast as Ribbon as she is younger but it was still good to see her. - Mackenzie


R8 went to Wingspan. Wingspan is a bird of prey centre. Wingspan is in Rotorua at 1334 Paradise Valley Road. We went on the trip so we could learn about birds as our taonga.

They have kārearea and barn owls at Wingspan. They showed us two kārearea called Ribbon and Star and a barn owl called Jarli.

Ribbon caught a RC magpie and a piece of leather tied to a moving bundy cord. Star caught a piece of meat tied to a string and a piece of leather tied to a moving bungy cord.

They gave us a close up look of Star, Ribbon, and Jarli. They were amazing birds. - Andy

Star went on people’s arms. Star went on my dad’s arm, too. It was a shame the kids didn’t get to hold her. Jarli, the barn owl, was so cute. She had a white face and really good hearing. - Alyssa

You are not allowed to pat the birds because they are a bird of prey. Their beaks are like knives. In fact, even worse, the noise when they eat is horrible. They like to eat the neck first. They twist their flesh and rip it out. If you want to find out more, then you can go to Wingspan. - Mackenzie

Wingspan is a beautiful bird sanctuary located in some picturesque hills in Rotorua. They showed three birds of prey - these were Ribbon (a kārearea), Star (a kārearea), and one of the most stunning in MY opinion, Jarli the barn owl. Did you know that owls can silently fly? It's because they have specially evolved so they can sneak up on their prey.

Did you know that kārearea are even rarer than kiwi? One of the reasons for this is Cyclone Gabrielle, which ripped out a lot of pine trees. This is where some kareareas nest. Some nest in rocks on the ground. - Carys

Watching three Room 8 students present their writing to Debbie Stewart, founder of Wingspan, and Noel Hyde, a member of New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to wildlife conservation, was a special moment which provided students with an authentic purpose for writing and success in sharing their learning with a wider audience.

Wingspan’s new site is currently under construction. We were pleased that our visit would support them to make their site even better. There are many ways you can support Wingspan here.

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