Twelve men and women of Ngāti Pāhauwera descent are celebrating this week after graduating from the Māori Conservation Foundation Course.
The programme was designed to give Ngāti Pāhauwera descendants the means to develop a sustainable future for themselves and their land.
Toro Waaka, Chair of the Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust hoped, “this training would enable the participants to provide leadership as kaitiaki for the iwi of our taonga tuku iho (treasures of our ancestral inheritance). We need to give the next generation the tools to succeed in their own right, while still contributing to their iwi and community.”
This eight week pilot programme was developed as a partnership between Ngāti Pāhauwera, the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income) and the Department of Conservation in Ahuriri. A first of its kind.
Graduation day, Thursday 4 September, was a great success. The student presentations showed how much they had learnt and how their eyes had been opened to the taonga within Hawke’s Bay and the importance of taking care of it. The students presented their learnings and experiences to a wider group of programme partners, Eastern Institute of Technology, whanau and tutors.
Eastern Institute of Technology's Academic and Student Services Director and Conservation Board Member, Jo Blakeley, talked about supporting the students and offering life-long learning opportunities. The students expressed great sadness that the course had come to an end, but they also realised it was just the beginning of their journey as guardians of their taonga. For example, they are now excited about finding and protecting local whitebait spawning sites and will do this with the support of the iwi and the Department of Conservation.
The students have spent their time undertaking a mix of classroom and practical learning with lots of opportunities to connect with the land. Work and Income also assisted trainees with preparing CVs, obtaining driver's licences, work search skills, budgeting and goal setting.
Hans Rook, formally a conservation officer, spent three weeks teaching the group about whitebait, whales and matuku (Australasian bittern). “You can’t learn everything overnight, but I wanted to introduce concepts that will be useful to them as future land managers for their iwi and community. They need to learn about the bigger picture", Mr Rook said, “after all it is no good banding a bittern if it doesn’t have a swamp to sit on.”
Pouri Rakete-Stones spent another three weeks challenging the team with a whole variety of pest control and species work, including being part of a kiwi health check as well as bush craft skills, bush walks and water quality. Once again, these are big picture concepts that will be valuable to them when making decisions about their tribal lands.
Based at the Waipapa-A-Iwi Marae, Mohaka, the aims of the course were:
- to provide Ngāti Pāhauwera descendants with relevant conservation skills and knowledge, which they will be able to use to strengthen conservation gains on tribal lands
- to provide the students with ‘work ready’ skills and to work with employers, including Ngāti Pāhauwera to help make it easier for them to get a job.
This is the first time that the East Coast Work and Income office has worked in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Ngāti Pāhauwera, establishing a partnership relationship which demonstrates mutual social, environmental and economic benefits for all.
It is hoped this pilot will provide a robust template for future programmes to be owned and implemented by iwi, hapu and whanau, both regionally and nationally.