Date: 14 September 2012
Government biodiversity grants announced this week will assist a central North Island iwi to protect the natural and cultural values of their land.
The Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust has been awarded $67,735 over three years from the Biodiversity Funds to control wilding pines at Orakei Korako/Red Hills – an ecologically and culturally important 120-ha geothermal area just north of Taupo.
A second grant of $17,500 will go towards vegetation and bat surveys within the 686-ha Tutukau Forest, near Orakei Korako. A restoration plan will also be drawn up for this large native forest remnant, which is protected by a Nga Whenua Rahui kawenata or covenant.
These projects are part of an overall strategy by the iwi to restore, and reconnect with important tribal areas, says Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust Environmental Liaison Officer, Evelyn Forrest.
“We want a taonga – a treasure or gift – to hand down to our children, not an environmental problem.”
The Trust aims to get iwi members involved in the weed control, field work, planning and monitoring for these projects, to provide them with an opportunity to up-skill and gain awareness of wider environmental issues, she says.
“It’s about strengthening our cultural connections with tribal lands, and iwi working towards managing and maintaining those lands.”
The Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust works with other agencies and organisations such as the Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council, to share expertise and knowledge and take a collaborative approach to protecting and enhancing tribal lands.
The Trust’s projects are two of 66 nation-wide to receive support from the DOC-administered Biodiversity Funds, which are used protect and enhance indigenous biodiversity on private land.
The Government is investing a total of $2,102,936 in these projects over three years, which is matched by $2,683,153 contributed by landowners and other organisations.
Orakei Korako/Red Hills wilding pine control
The removal of wilding pines and other weeds in the Orakei Korako/Red Hills geothermal area will help protect native shrublands and threatened plants within this rare ecosystem type. The area is also the ukaipo (birthplace) of Ngati Tahu and was recently returned to the iwi as part of their Treaty settlement.
The Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (funded by Mighty River Power) has also pledged $50,000 towards the project, while the Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust will provide planning and administrative support. This project follows the successful removal of wilding pines from the adjacent Orakei Korako Thermal Park tourism area, which is also owned by the iwi.
Tutukau Forest vegetation and bat survey and restoration plan
A vegetation survey of Tutukau Forest will provide information about the range and condition of plants and their habitats as a basis for a restoration plan for this large native forest area. Short-tailed bats, which are thought to be important pollinators of the threatened pua o te reinga or woodrose (Dactylanthus taylorii) found in the forest, will be surveyed to see if they are present.
Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa is also collaborating with Nga Whenua Rahui and the Waikato Regional Council to fence and control wilding pines and other weeds in Tutukau Forest. The Tutukau East Z Block Trust is kaitiaki for the forest for about 3000 owners.
Fiona Oliphant, DOC Media Officer
Phone: +64 27 470 1378
Evelyn Forrest, Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust
Phone: +64 7 3666177 or +64 21 081 25304