Introduction

A small ceremony was performed on Mt Tarawera on Monday to signal the start of the third season of wildling pine control on the mountain.

A small ceremony was performed on Mt Tarawera on Monday to signal the start of the third season of wildling pine control on the mountain. Karakia were performed by Ngati Rangitihi kamatua to bless the work programme, attended by the pine control crew, Ngati Rangithi trustees, Department of Conservation (DOC) staff, MP Todd McLay and other invited guests.

Over the last two summers, the crew have cleared all of the domes of Mt Tarawera (Wahanga, Ruawahia and Tarawera) and will begin their third season on the southern flanks. The domes of Mt Tarawera cover an area of over 250 hectares and had an extensive numbers of wildling pines. With difficult terrain and extreme weather conditions, the job is tough. But none of the crew are complaining as it’s their maunga (mountain) they are looking after.

Mt Tarawera pine control blessing.
Mountain top karakia to bless the work.

The project which is undertaken through a partnership between Ruawahia 2B Trust & DOC, employs young Ngati Rangitihi men to live and work on the mountain. Starting out with little forestry skills, they are being trained and gaining national certificates in Forestry foundation skills.

Managed by John Donald, the crew has been fortunate to have a leader with a life long background in forestry and strong experience in helicopter logging. John has also been involved with a number of wildling pine operations “The guys have done a great job and worked very hard in some testing conditions. But more importantly they have come together as a team and grown as young men, making the project enjoyable” explains John.

Group photo.
Mountain top group photo

Ken Raureti, Chairman of the Ruawahia 2B Trust, on behalf of landowners Ngati Rangitihi, speaks passionately about the effect the project is having on their iwi. “Two years ago we recruited our boys from Ngati Rangitihi. We trained them, up-skilled them, gave them meaningful mahi, put them on the mountain to mahi the mahi; they went up as boys and came back men”.

“Their self awareness, self esteem, self confidence and their mana was enhanced not only within themselves, but also within the community of Matata (Ngati Rangithi) where they live.”

“The wilding pine project has thrust the Maunga, our Iwi, and the work we are doing into a community profile of positive engagement, positive light and positive outcomes” explains Ken.

The third season of pine control is expected to carry through until January 2012.

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