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Kiwis are known for a love for DIY. Supposedly, the ‘do it yourself’ attitude is in our DNA. Right along with our taste for pavlova and yearn to play rugby.

I’m sure all of you will have heard the phrase ‘Kiwi ingenuity’. It is the idea that New Zealanders are intrinsically good at coming up with a solution to any problem. Usually, the solutions are creative and unusual, using whatever is at hand.

If you ask me, Kiwi kids have more ingenuity than their parents despite that they both share this creative DNA. Often it’s kids who have both the ideas and the determination to make it a reality. There is a scientific reason for this loss of inventiveness. When we become an adult, our frontal cortex develops more ‘rational’ tendencies and we lose our ability for divergent thinking, stifling our creativity.

In the 2020 lockdown, kids all over New Zealand were stuck at home with nothing to do. Hopefully, many of you used that time to put your natural ingenuity to good use! Swapping out your gaming consoles for a hammer and Netflix binges for adventure.

Stanley Watson, 15 from the Bay of Plenty is a great example of a Kiwi kid who has created something awesome recently. When faced with the problem of not being able to leave his house to go to the mountain biking tracks in lockdown, Stanley came up with a genius solution- to bring the mountain biking tracks to him.

Stanley has designed and built a mountain bike course on the land outside his house. The course is fitted with all the bells and whistles such as both dirt and wooden ramps/ jumps. Check out the picture!

Stanley has done a very impressive job with such a small space and the limitations of a tree in the middle of his miny terrain park! A clever and creative solution to his problem.

I hope you all put your creative young minds to good use during this current lockdown too. Or if not, use Stanley’s story as inspiration going forward.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Why do you think people are more creative during lockdown?  
  2. Write a list about the positive things from being in lockdown?

Practical Thinking Questions:

Below are some ideas for creative activities to do while in lockdown.

  1. Using pen and paper, design the ultimate tree house?
  2. If you have the resources, and parent help, spend some time outside being creative. If you can’t think of something try to construct the biggest tower that will support a football or rugby ball.
  3. If baking is more your thing then spend some time inside making some magic in the kitchen.
  4. Have you thought of being creative on the computer? Use a website builder such as WordPress or WIx to make a small website about yourself.
  5. If music is your strength then write a song and create a video for it.

We would love to hear about what you have done. Comment below to let us know and to give other Kiwi kids some new ideas. If you have an image send it through to [email protected]

I’ve lived away from home as a university student for three years, going home every few months during the breaks. I love seeing my family, it’s great to catch up with friends, the home-cooked food is delicious and it’s amazing to be in a warm house. But what I really look forward to, what I get most excited about… Is seeing my dog. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. I love him that much! However, it’s got me wondering that maybe this relationship is completely different for him. Maybe he sees me as an absolute weirdo who goes away for months, then comes back and occasionally feeds and walks him. Does he even love me in return? If you have a pet – are you troubled with the same thoughts?

Most people have a pet at some point during their lifetime. Whether it’s a cat, dog, fish or rabbit, pets bring companionship that boosts our happiness and adds meaning to our lives. It isn’t hard to believe that most pet owners think of their animals as actual members of the family.

But pets do more than sit their looking cute. They promote both mental and physical health that can significantly improve our lives. People with pets typically have lower heart rates and blood pressure than those without, a result of the additional movement owning a pet requires and the stress relief their company provides. Furthermore, pets can improve a range of mental health conditions, from anxiety and loneliness to depression and low self-esteem.

However, an ethical question has been raised lately, one that has got me really confused. Is it okay to keep house pets? It is not a chosen life for the animal and it’s not what nature intended. While we may love our pets and treat them as well as we can, is this a life they can thrive in? Our animals cannot tell us whether they are happy being pets. When you think about it, we bring our pets into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to produce their own offspring. Do we have the right to make that decision for another being?

Now I love my dog, I really do. Even as I write this article, the thought of leaving him to fend for himself and “make his own decisions” makes me upset. But I have to remind myself that the only reason he would be in trouble in the wild is because he hasn’t been raised to live there. He doesn’t know how to fend for himself like a wild dog in their natural habitat would, and that’s because we have spoiled him rotten as most owners do. So, while today’s generation of pets aren’t ready to leave home, would it be possible to make the next? Is this something we should want? Do we want wild cats and dogs all over the place?

Personally, I don’t want that. But at the end of the day, it’s not my decision to make. It is a difficult question to answer, as the animal cannot give its own opinion – but would they really want to live in a house with only a couple of opportunities to go for a walk or a run each day? Would they really want to eat dried food or kibble only? Would they really want to be unable to produce their own offspring? I think not. What do you think? More importantly, what does your pet think?

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What do you think? Should we keep pets? Why/Why Not?
  2. Is there a way to decide what life is better for the animals? If so, how?
  3. What would happen to the world if all the house pets were suddenly let into the wild?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Describe the ideal day in the life of a pet and then of an animal in the wild. Which one do you think is preferred?
  2. What would be the negative effects on humans if they were to live without pets?
  3. If you have a pet, go give it a belly rub or take it for a long walk! Treat your pets as well as you can.