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Signs of the Sea

Signs of the Sea aims to grow people’s environmental awareness and mindfulness through a set of activities that generate a sense of place and kaitiakitanga (stewardship) for the coast. The activities blend observation skills (akin to citizen science) with place-based connection (cultural and sensory awareness). Thirty-five different activities prompt different practices of observation using a variety of senses, measuring, reflection, and actions encouraging awareness and connection to our coastal environment. They help us see what is here now, what was here, and how it is changing.

Subjects include:

  • plant and animal communities,
  • the physical environment (movement of sand, water quality, or tidal height),
  • current vs historical human use, and
  • cultural significance.

Each activity is designed to be repeatable so enacting them becomes a ritual of mindfulness while visiting coastal places. Engaging our senses to carefully observe our natural environment is a first step in coming to know it, and in knowing it, becoming aware of changes within it. We need to pay attention to what is happening today, learn from the past, and prepare for the future.

The Signs of the Sea provide opportunities for all ages in informal learning, hands-on involvement, and creative activity to help build a sense of place along our coast. It is a resource for educators, families, individuals, environmental groups, local councils and communities. Activities can be selected according to the relevance to the region (e.g. sandy vs rocky coast).

Activities can be selected for one-off events such as community days, festivals, school field trips, or holiday programmes, or place-based ecotourism. Or activities may be installed by councils or nature reserves as permanent signage features of a coastal walkway.

The Signs of the Sea offers a sharable kaupapa for looking after our coastal environment, both now and for the future.

Rocky Shore signs

Adapting to Place sign image

Download signs for rocky shore environments. Learn about how animals adapt to rocky habitats, how to look at change over time, and more.

Muddy Shore signs

Monitoring Mud sign image

Download signs for muddy shore environments. Learn about how where sediment comes from, observe how animals live in these habitats, and more.

Sandy Shore signs

Kaitiakitanga sign image

Download signs for sandy shore environments. Track change using photography, learn about kaitiakitanga, observe kaimoana and more.

Any Shore signs

Patterns Of Place sign image

Download signs for any shore environments. Notice patterns in the waves and sand and compose a song, move like the animals around you and more.

Your sign

Your Sign template image

Download a sign template and create your own!

Topic information and resources for using the signs

Download a PDF to all the background for the signs, including extra activities to do with your whānau, community groups or classroom.

Stay in touch

Share your walks, adventures and observations using the Signs of the Sea resource on our Facebook page with others. You can also contact us at [link to come]

Message in sand image
A promise written in the sand by a young person for the “Kaitiakitanga” sign.