Mātauranga Māori is at the heart of the latest tranche of Jobs for Nature projects to promote biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change on Māori land, Minister of Conservation Poto Williams says.
The latest round of funding will see $11 million of Jobs for Nature funding create at least 45 jobs across Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Tairawhiti, Nelson, and Southland to undertake pest control, weeding, planting and track maintenance.
"The funding will support Māori landowners to protect and restore their whenua while providing iwi, hapū and whanau with long-term nature-based employment," Williams said.
"These projects will incorporate Mātauranga Māori, building indigenous values-led conservation as a foundation for all New Zealanders. As well as deepening their connections to the whenua, project workers will undertake training and build skills that could enable them to pursue a career in conservation."
A large chunk of the funding will go to Te Poho o Rāwiri marae in Gisborne to continue work already started to create an ecological corridor from Titirangi (Kaiti Hill) to Tatapōuri. More than 70,000 native trees have been planted since exotic trees were removed in 2016.
Protection of indigenous biodiversity
It is expected 20 people will be employed by Whaia Titirangi through the next phase of the project, which aims to preserve and reintroduce endangered species, undertake erosion control, waterway restoration and pest control along the 15km-long corridor.
Over $13 million will go towards Ngā Whenua Rāhui projects. The Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund is a contestable ministerial fund that facilitates the voluntary protection of indigenous biodiversity on Māori-owned land while honouring the rights guaranteed to Māori landowners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The first group of Ngā Whenua Rāhui projects focus on significant conservation work on Māori-owned land. They also create multi-year employment for local people. Collectively, this first group of projects totals approximately $3 million.
The government’s Jobs for Nature programme is a $1.219 billion investment in the creation of nature-based jobs that will benefit the environment, people, and the regions. As a part of this programme, the Department of Conservation has allocated $488 million to projects that will create nature-based job opportunities for approximately 4,800 people over four years.
Restoring mauri and mana
Jobs for Nature is supercharging the conservation efforts of the department, iwi and hapū, councils and the wider community to implement kaitiakitanga. The funding is helping to restore the mauri and mana of te taiao by controlling pests and weeds, and is boosting the health of wetlands, native bush, rivers, and streams.
Since 2020, the Jobs For Nature project has employed nearly 10,000 people with more than four million hours worked across Aotearoa.
The six three-year projects being funded in this round are:
Whaia Titirangi in Tairāwhiti
Te Poho o Rawiri Marae received over $5 million to continue work to create an ecological corridor stretching from Titirangi maunga to Tatapouri.
Tekateka Restoration - Project Mahitahi, Nelson
Ngati Koata Trust received $999,150 to restore and protect 60 hectares of indigenous forest, which is home to native bird species and has significant cultural value for the iwi landowners. The project will employ five people to undertake pest and predator control, and plant riparian trees and other indigenous flora.
Te Matai Jobs for Nature, Hawke's Bay
Te Matai Trust received $1,146,017 to employ five people on two Māori land blocks totalling 3399 hectares. Work will include pest and weed management mustelids and approximately 35.1km of track maintenance. The project will develop a skilled workforce to meet the requirements of Māori whenua organisations.
Ngā Whenua Māori o Te Nehenehenui, Waikato
Through the $1,753,677 funding, Wai Ora River Care will support three Māori freehold land trusts across five blocks to undertake pest control and plant 80,000 native trees. The project, which will employ nine people, will also help to protect two significant historic sites – Karuotewhenua and Te Anaureure o Maniapoto.
E Hoki Mai Ra Whenua Collective in Mahia, Hawke's Bay
Rongomaiwahine Iwi Charitable Trust has received $1,251,000 to continue a pest eradication programme targeting possums, rats, and mustelids. The project, which will employ five people, focuses on the protection of endangered species like Shore Plover, Matuku and Dotterel within the Mahia Peninsula and is jointly undertaken with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
Pā Mahinga Kai delivered by Te Wai Parera Trust in Southland
Te Wai Parera Trust has received $920,000 to employ five people to create open water habitat in the lower Waituna Lagoon catchment for native bird and fish species including tuna and wai koura. The project will also undertake pest control and planting as part of the conversion of 40ha of incumbent pastoral land owned by Awarua Rūnanga (Ngāi Tahu). This will enhance water quality in the area which adjoins the internationally significant Waituna Lagoon RAMSAR site.