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Outreach Heading Out Again

Following the successful Far from Frozen programme in Niue in August, the Otago Museum team is about to pack up and head to the Cook Islands.

With the continued support of the United States Embassy and Air New Zealand, a team from Otago Museum is travelling to Avarua, Rarotonga on 24 September to present a week of school sessions, shows and community workshops. The showcase includes interactive displays, demonstrations and virtual reality experiences, all designed to communicate the science behind climate change.

The trip to Niue was successful, with over 500 people attending, including primary and secondary students, members of the community and local agencies. Craig Grant, Director Science Engagement and Visitor Experience, says, “The feedback from our Niue visit was really positive, so we’re looking forward to sharing these science stories with the Cook Islanders. It’s such a privilege to be able to come into these communities and help provide some of the information and knowledge they need to make more informed decisions about their future.

“Sea level rise, ocean acidification and intensifying cyclones are already a reality for these Pacific Island nations, and, hopefully, Far from Frozen will help demystify the science behind the factors that are causing these changes.”

Due to their topography, coastal population distribution, exposure to tropical cyclones, and reliance on coral reef ecosystems for food and tourism, these islands and their inhabitants are at the coalface of having to adapt and respond to the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, yet have very little direct science communication to aid their learning about these issues.

“If island communities can better understand the science driving what they are experiencing, they can then make more informed decisions around potential mitigation and adaption strategies, and the timeframes to implement such actions.”

Far from Frozen originally opened at Otago Museum in January 2017 and has since toured to museums (including Canterbury Museum and Space Place Wellington), schools and events around New Zealand, as well as the August trip to Niue. More than 35 000 people have engaged with it and the feedback has been extremely positive with respect to how it raises awareness of climate change science.

Otago Museum developed the showcase in association with Antarctica New Zealand, the University of Otago and the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute with support from the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment's Unlocking Curious Minds fund.