Stowaways Container 

Stowaways container

Curriculum links

Learning areas

  • Science
  • Social Studies

Which strands will it fit with?

  • Science: Nature of Science; Living World; Planet Earth and Beyond
  • Social Studies: Place and Environment; The Economic World

Key competencies

Participating and contributing; Thinking, Using language; symbols, and texts

Levels of achievement

Levels 2–4

Year group

Years 3–9

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Which topics of study can it support?

• New Zealand environment

• New Zealand flora and fauna

Where do I find it?

Level 3, Blood Earth Fire – Whāngai Whenua Ahi Kā. If you get lost, just ask a Te Papa Host.

How long might this take?

Allow 5–10 minutes.

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Why should I take my class to visit this?

  • Help students understand why we have strict border control in New Zealand.
  • Encourage students to use problem-solving and investigative skills.
  • It's a fun interactive space for students and teachers to explore and enjoy.
  • Note: It's recommended that only 5–10 students at a time are in the container. Other students can investigate objects nearby while they wait.

What is there to do there?

  • Walk through the orange ship container and pretend you are a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Biosecurity inspector. Your mission is to search the crates, boxes, and suitcases for 'invaders' – dangerous plants and animals that may have found their way on board. Find them before they escape and invade our country!
  • Find the nine 'invaders' in the crates and boxes. They are identified by their accompanying labels. But look carefully – there are some other invaders in crates without labels.
  • Look at the strange names on the various packaging in the container, eg Manky Mangoes.

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What should I know about this?

  • The number of sea containers arriving in New Zealand has increased by approximately 180 per cent over the last 12 years, with over 260,000 full and 160,000 empty containers imported during 2001–02.
  • Over 95 per cent of empty containers and 97 per cent of loaded containers arrive with certificates stating that the interior of the container is free from contamination. All of the uncertified containers are internally inspected by MPI before leaving the wharf. Of the certified containers, 10 per cent are selected at random and inspected to verify the accuracy of the certificate.
  • Invaders that are prevented from getting into Aotearoa New Zealand by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) include:
  • Fruit fly maggots – the fruit fly is an established pest in neighbouring countries and can wreck crops. It would take only one infected mango to introduce the pest to New Zealand, which would have a disastrous impact on our fruit exports.
  • Bats – these can carry infectious and deadly diseases.
  • Spiders may be poisonous and threaten local wildlife. The very poisonous black widow spider has been stopped at New Zealand’s borders in the past.
  • Poisonous plants can invade native bush. They can also endanger people if they have sharp spikes and thorns.
  • Termites chew through wood, furniture, homes, and forests. Similarly, some beetles are wood eaters; they eat through houses and trees.
  • Mosquitoes carry diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. These diseases are widespread in hotter parts of the world.
  • Empty sea and snail shells – they may still contain eggs.
  • Anything suspected of carrying foot-and-mouth disease – not only infected animals, but also wool, hair, hay, footwear, clothing, livestock equipment, and vehicle tyres. Foot-and-mouth disease presents perhaps the greatest risk to New Zealand’s econom. It is prevalent in many countries and can survive for long periods in meat products. An outbreak would immediately put a stop to our valuable exports of meat and animal products.
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    Possible topics for discussion

    • What did you find in the container? How are these things harmful?
    • Did you notice some unusal package labels in the container? Why do you think they had such funny names?
    • Why is it important for containers like this to be checked before coming into New Zealand?
    • Over 400,000 containers land in New Zealand every year. Do you think it’s possible to search every one as thoroughly as the container you just searched?
    • Can you name some things in our natural environment that need to be protected from possible invaders?
    • Have you visited another country and had your luggage checked when you came back into New Zealand? Why does this happen?
    • How can people help MPI inspectors with their job of protecting our natural environment?
    • New Zealand's economy relies on imports and exports. What effect do you think strict border controls have on New Zealand businesses?
    • Do you think other countries help protect New Zealand’s biosecurity?
    • Do you think it is difficult or easy to protect New Zealand’s borders?

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    Further information

    Related material

    See Blood Earth Fire – Whāngai Whenua Ahi Kā on level 3 for these exhibits:

    • ‘Arrivals board’ – similar to the boards you see at the airport. It lists where and when species have been introduced to New Zealand.
    • ‘Survivor’ – a fun touch-screen computer interactive where the player becomes an ‘alien’ moving to a new planet. The player has to decide what species they would like to take with them to help them in this new environment. However, they discover that the survival of their introduced species will probably have a negative impact on the species native to the new planet.
    • ‘The land that was’ –  is a series of dioramas with taxidermic and model animals, mostly birds. Hear what our environment might have sounded like hundreds of years ago, before humans came to New Zealand.
    • ‘Creeping, slithering, and crawling in’ – some species that have found their way into New Zealand, and that MPI continue to look out for.

    Blood Earth Fire student activity trail. Download, print and fold into a booklet that your students can use to explore the Blood Earth Fire exhibition.

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