Squawk Squad brings conservation into the classroom

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To coincide with Conservation Week, M Theory (the AR and VR arm of Auckland creative agency Method), working with NZ social enterprise Squawk Squad, has created an interactive VR experience aimed at getting rangatahi excited about saving New Zealand’s native birds.

It’s the first app of its kind, which also incorporates te reo as a language option.

The Squawk Squad team has distributed 800 cardboard VR headsets to over 25,000 Kiwi kids from400+ schools in preparation for a week full of both digital and hands-on challenges. 

“Virtual Reality is such a powerful way to create an emotional connection with conservation and change attitudes and behaviour around the importance of saving our native bird life,” says Squawk Squad founder Fraser McConnell. 

“For these kids, seeing our native birds and the predators that threaten them in an immersive, game-like format is exciting, and then receiving challenges outside of the VR experience gives them the opportunity to bring the conservation conversation home to their whanau and friends.” 

“VR game is funding traps, and bringing Aotearoa closer to our predator-free goal.”

Partnering with DoC, Christchurch City Council, M Theory, Ngai Tahu, Genesis Energy and blue duck recovery programme WhioForever, McConnell and the team worked with augmented and virtual reality studio M Theory to create the VR experience, which requires a smartphone and the Squawk’s Journey app to participate in.

M Theory MD Samantha Ramlu said: “From our work across large and small brands, it’s clear that the virtual reality technology brings a new level of engagement and excitement to any subject matter. We’re really thrilled to see it being used to fund traps and bring Aotearoa closer to our predator-free goal.

“Kids who participate are encouraged to get their friends and whanau to fund Goodnaturetraps and can use the Squawk Squad app to track the number of predators that have been eradicated by their traps.”

To date, Squawk Squad have trapped over 1200 pests with their 196 traps and 902 funders. In 2017, they raised $70,000 on Kickstarter to fund three conservation projects and were recently commended in the 2017 NZ Innovation Awards.

Last year, the team ran a similar campaign for Conservation Week which named Room 14 from Auckland’s Belmont Primary School as the most conservationally engaged classroom of 2017.


Client: Squawk Squad
Agency: M Theory
Creative Director: Eugene Eastlake
Producers: Tanya Smith, Sam Ramlu
3D: Ben Halligan
Animation: Danillo Castilho, Ben Halligan
Design: Ben Markby, Nick Peek
Video: Nick Peek
Sound: Franklin Road, M Theory

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