Te Hau Kainga o Pureora Secretary Frances Hughes says last week’s planting in the Pikiariki-Mount Pureora Ecological corridor, by a group of 18 iwi members and DOC staff, is the culmination of three years of fact-finding, knowledge sharing and planning. The Pikiariki-Mount Pureora Ecological Corridor is a large part of Maraeroa A & B’s whenua received back through Treaty Settlement in 2012.
Last week’s planting saw wineberry, lancewood, pittosporums, tōtara and kahikatea planted within the forest, after the young trees were propagated at a small nursery Te Hau Kainga o Pureora operates on DOC-administered land.
“It’s only a small space, but it’s big enough for what we can manage, and we can tend to it on a daily basis,” Frances Hughes says.
Te Hau Kainga o Pureora sought information and guidance from DOC staff, gleaning insight into DOC’s work to inform their own project and develop the knowledge needed.
“When we started off, we were very inexperienced,” Frances Hughes says.
“We didn’t really know what we were doing, we just knew we needed to grow trees to protect that eco-corridor.”
“We were able to work alongside them, make some observations, and have some input,” Frances Hughes says.
“We shared knowledge: they (DOC staff) gave their scientific point of view, and we gave our cultural point of view – it was very rewarding for both parties, and we were able to find common links between the science and cultural values.
“It just made sense to learn together,” she says.
Frances Hughes says iwi members were motivated by a shared desire to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the forest and encourage native bird species, including kōkako, which have been successfully translocated to and from Pureora in recent years.
“We wanted to contribute to their habitat, survival and longevity,” she says, pointing to a direct correlation between the health of the forest and the growth of native bird species populations.
Last week’s planting exercise included three generations of whanau, a karakia to mark the start of the planting, and culminated with a shared meal.
DOC’s Maniapoto Operations Manager Oscar Emery says the ongoing collaboration with Te Hau Kainga o Pureora reflects the Department’s desire to work with community organisations to achieve mutual conservation goals.
“This is a great example of how we can partner with whanau, iwi and hapū to enhance and protect papatuaunuku,” he says. “It’s been very rewarding to share knowledge and perspectives and see conservation capacity grow.”
Frances Hughes says the group’s longer-term plan includes providing employment opportunities for whanau and developing predator control expertise and programmes.
“Our intention was to get our people on-board to learn this stuff – in my view, if we’re able to encourage and motivate people, it’s a success,” she says.
“The rewards are huge – it’s not about money, it’s about what we see developing before our eyes, and getting our people interested.”