A conservation project by hapu on the East Coast is generating interest and momentum amongst local whanau, hapu, marae and kura.
Tieki Te Taiao is a three year project to identify and protect sites of ecological and cultural significance between Whareponga and Hikurangi Maunga. Supported by the Department of Conservation, the first year of the project is focused on assessing our natural resources and planning for restoration of key sites in the years to come.
At the first of six wananga held last weekend at Whareponga, environmental scientists Lois Easton (Gisborne District Council) and Murray Palmer (Nga Mahi Te Taiao Ltd) provided hapu members with training on wetland plant and weed identification and water quality monitoring.
“Wananga are awesome learning opportunities. It is always great to visit our places of significance, reconnect as whanau and share learnings with invited experts. Our rangatahi – so kamakama with their technological savvy – played an important part in recording our discoveries and results. It is a bonus that our whanau are moved to start protection works ‘instantaneously’ on-site.” said Pia Pohatu, Project Manager for Hikurangi Takiwa Trust.
As a result of the information shared, whanau and hapu members started removing the South American Swamp Flower that was found at the wetland visited. Hikuku and the other four wetlands on the Waikohu block are important to us historically and culturally and they also provide important fresh water habitat. Ms Pohatu said “following the erection of stockproof fencing hapu members are planning regular camps to continue eeling practices, remove weeds, monitor water quality and replant areas with suitable native plant species”.
The Trust is developing a comprehensive assessment of the health of the land, water and biodiversity that will form a ‘State of the Rohe’ environmental report by the end of this year.
Local residents and landowners in the area have been invited to participate in the project. Support available for landowners includes training and resources that support sustainable land and water management. Volunteers helping with habitat restoration through site and resource specific plans, seed collection, propagation and replanting of sites and some financial support for conservation activities are also available.
“By landowners identifying sites of significance or determining what sustainable land and water management means to them we are able to support their needs and aspirations in a variety of ways including accessing technical and scientific expertise that will enable us to restore habitats” said Ms Pohatu.
“Over the year we are working through our whole rohe (tribal area), to identify and prioritise sites and habitats that are important to the hapu and need protection.”
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