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Pānui Kōanga

Pānui Kōanga / Spring 2023 

“Ka tangi te Pīpīwharauroa, ko ngā karere a Mahuru” 

If the shining cuckoo cries, it is the messenger of spring 



Tēnā koe,  

It’s a pleasure connecting with you as we approach the end of yet another busy season.  

Spring was an exciting time for our kaimahi, iwi and whanau as we worked side by side planting thousands of native trees, engaged in numerous wananga and ventured out of the rohe on haerenga.

This pānui will not only get you up to speed on all of these amazing kaupapa but introduce you to the amazing Raukūmara series and update you on our collective effort to restore the mana and mauri of the Raukūmara itself, our shared ngahere. 


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Niwa 

We were very fortunate to be offered the opportunity to be hosted by Niwa in Pōneke. Bound together our Raukūmara Pae Maunga team set off on their journey with Te Kura o Te Whanau-a-Apanui,

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou and Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparaoa.  

 

Our rangatahi were introduced to a number of scientists who shared learnings on marine life, water testing and weather research. In very coasty style, our kids got stuck into the mahi and were very hands on. They were analyzing the carbon that our very own Raukūmara forest produces and getting a grasp on how trees play a vital part in our lives by creating healthy air and a stable climate.   

 

One of the highlights our rangatahi enjoyed on this haerenga was being taken to Zealandia – Te Māra a Tāne Ecosanctuary. Here they were able to witness for themselves the positive effects kaitiakitanga can have on a ngahere. There was healthy rakau, constant waiata of native manu and a strong feeling of Mauri. 




Hono ki te Raukūmara  

Hosted by Ōhinewaiapu marae we engaged in wananga with members of our whanau who travelled from all over the motu. This day was abundant in korero hītori, updates on the Raukūmara ngahere and a beautiful learning experience on kanuka oil extraction which was led by Bella and Keith Stevenson.   

Days like these are so important to us, as we are privileged to walk this journey alongside you all, our whanau, our hapu and our iwi. 


Moutohora  

During October we had the opportunity to take some of our whanau to Whale Island off the coast of Ngāti Awa. On this trip we learnt a lot about biosecurity and why we should be placing a high emphasis on this within our own ngahere, Te Raukūmara.  


Pest plants such as gorse and pampas are very easily spread and they do this without our whanau even knowing, often hitching a ride under our boots.  We were introduced to a whole new level of biosecurity and shown how to properly clean and disinfect your gear before entering any ngahere.


These are just some of the steps Moutohora Kaitiaki take to ensure the oranga of their beautiful motu.  With all of these learnings in place our whanau set off onto Moutohora ready to explore. What they witnessed next was nothing short of remarkable.  


We had Tīeke manu greet us on arrival, Raukawa gecko flourishing in the hundreds and we had to watch our step the entire duration of this hikoi as the Tītī burrow were plentiful 40,000+ 

Can you imagine that! 40,000 Tītī who have found security on this island

and that’s all thanks to the continuous pest management of kaitiaki 

Watch our trip here: https://fb.watch/oinh4P2Z-Q/ 



Tamaki  

When any opportunity arises to engage with our whanau, you bet we jump at it! 

Some of our Raukūmara Pae Maunga team travelled to Tamaki to present their mahi and to whakawhanaunga with our people who live out of the rohe.  We shared a lot of laughter, deep korero and also a few tears together. That’s the beauty of the Raukūmara, it has this beautiful way of bringing us together.  




Whirinaki 

Our operations taiao team went to Whirinaki Te Pua-a-tāne to assist with some pest management mahi and to learn about the application of pindone.  One of the key experiences this enabled for our kaimahi was it highlighted some differences between this ngāhere and our Raukūmara. Some things that our kaimahi noticed were that the rākau were really big, there were kākā everywhere, the water is pristine, the ngahere felt peaceful.

 

That is what we are striving towards for our Raukūmara. An abundance of bird song, our taonga species to hoki ki te kāinga, rākau to grow big for generations and a mauri that is undeniably strong in our ngahere.   

Check out this awesome video of our kaimahi here: 



Ep1 Raukūmara Pae Maunga – WhyApu? 

 

October was a very massive month as we worked closely with Te Amokura Productions to bring the Raukūmara and its story to you in a powerful way.  Why Apu? The very first episode of the Raukūmara Pae Maunga series was launched. In this episode we explored the spiritual bond between Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, We witnessed an unwavering aroha for our shared ngahere and explored a powerful movement by our people to restore the mana and mauri that is Raukūmara Pae Maunga.  

To watch the first episode of this series click the link below and keep an eye out for whats to come next.  






Deer and Goat Update

Winter 2023 saw the start of deer and goat ground culling operations at Raukūmara Pae Maunga. With ungulates at what is described by some people as “plague” levels throughout te Raukūmara, our new ground control crew join our existing aerial control team to ensure a multi-faceted response to the deer population explosion, which is having such a negative impact on our ngahere. 

 

What’s the problem, you might ask? Everyone loves a venny burger, and the price of heading into the forest to fill the freezer with meat can’t be beat at any of our supermarkerts!  

That’s true, but in Aotearoa, these introduced pest have no natural predators, so in places like te Raukūmara that is so deep, vast, wide and difficult to access, they have been able to roam freely for generations and deer populations are growing much faster than they can be controlled. Introduced to te Raukūmara in the 1950s from Lake Waikaremoana, our rich, green, lush forest has to this point provided ample food sources allowing the population to boom.  

 

Unchecked and where there are no controls on population levels, deer cause massive problems to forests. They feed voraciously on forest plants, trees and saplings. Their favourites are usually our native plants and trees, many of which are already threatened or in danger, and many of which take hundreds of years to reach full maturity. They adore the forest understory, and when combined with the trampling impact of their heavy hooves, they can wipe out entire sections of the bush.   

By targeting our native plants, and in many cases wiping them out completely, deer alter the delicate balance of the ancient forest structure. This changes the forest and impacts the biodiversity as vital food and shelter sources are taken away for both plants and animals. This can hinder or, as is happening in many places across te Raukūmara, halt the natural forest regeneration process.   

In sub-alpine regions - like the heights of our maunga - deer cause untold damage to wildflowers, tussock and moss. This means the natural absorption qualities that soak up and slow down rain, are lost and waters come flowing down our mountains much faster than they normally would, causing devastating floods, slips and landslides. 

 

Deer are now a victim of their own success. They have colonised our ngahere to such an extent that the food sources they have enjoyed for so long: our rich, vibrant understory; our young native saplings, struggling to establish themselves; and the delicious low-hanging leaves of our taonga plants are now in short supply, or have disappeared altogether. Many hunters now report deer look thin, sometimes emaciated. Starving deer are now moving on to less nutritious food sources like eating the bark from established trees, like the ancient tōtara that have stood deep in the heart of te Raukūmara for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The deer strip the tree bark off - skinning the trees alive. If they remove bark completely from the perimeter of a tree this is referred to as “ring barking”, which is usually a death sentence that very few trees will survive. Our kaimahi have been into the interior of our forest and seen with their own eyes entire areas where more ancient trees are dead, than left alive. 

 

Understanding the level of harm these pests are causing our beloved ngahere is why our focus is on reducing deer and goat levels to manageable levels.  

We are hunters ourselves. We want some deer to remain in accessible parts of our ngahere, as venison is a plentiful, cheap and delicious source of kai; because hunting is a highly valued recreational activity that we love, too; and for the importance of being able to manaaki our community and manuhiri with the fruits of our labour. So, with our aerial control team utilizing the latest tech to reduce deer numbers from the sky, AND with our ground control team approaching the problem from the tracks and paths of our forest, we’ll restore the balance of our ngahere for the good of our ecosystem AND the good of our communities.  



Restoring the Mana and Mauri of our ngahere

This period has seen a successful 1080 application onto the Te Whānau-a-Apanui side of te Raukūmara, and spring is starting to show us the incredibly positive results of this mahi.  

 

“The bird life is coming back to the Hapapara” said Raukūmara Pae Maunga project pou and oldschool hunter, Wiremu Wharepapa, in August, a few weeks after the operation had been completed. “That part of the forest has been silent, for so long. It’s almost weird to hear native bird song, again”.  

Our forest is over-run with introduced pests. Controlling the level of possums, rats, stoats, ferrets and feral cats who are (like deer and goats), colonising our ngahere and destroying our forest from the inside, out is the only hope to save te Raukūmara from ecological collapse. 

 

Possums are one of the greatest threats to te taiao. Introduced into te Raukūmara in the late 1950s, they eat - and destroy - a massive range of taonga species. They focus on the fruit, seeds, nectar, flowers and buds of our plants and trees, taking kai away from our manu, insects and reptiles. By eating all parts of a plant, and by being able to decimate entire groves of species by taking sometimes every single leaf, possums can almost totally destroy a plant’s ability to reproduce or survive. Possums eat invertebrates like wētā and native snails, and they have been filmed eating the eggs and chicks of kōkako, kea and other endangered native wildlife. And they often occupy holes in trees or on the ground which would otherwise be used by nesting birds like kākāriki, saddleback and kiwi.  

 

One of the best control methods for pests like possums is 1080. Nothing else works quickly enough to save our ngahere. Some of our taonga species are already extinct, and others like the eastern brown kiwi, teeter on the brink. And nothing else is workable in our forest, so much of which is at such steep altitudes vast tracts of te Raukūmara are impossible to access on foot. And nothing else is anywhere near cost-effective. Even if we could access all of the terrain of this forest on foot, and even if we had all of the traps in Aotearoa, and even if we had thousands of highly experienced bush men and women walking each trap line 24 hours a day, seven days a week: we would have zero chance of controlling these pests in time to save the forest using this method.  

 

And we know it is the only thing that will work. When our monitoring team returned to the ngahere following the operation, we saw, heard and felt the difference. Based for some of our time at the upper reaches of the Raukokore awa doing monitoring mahi, it’s too soon for official results, but our whānau came home with all their senses telling them to be confident this is the path to success.


They reported: They could hear the difference: the birds were so loud, it was almost as if they were having a party to celebrate the possums and rats finally disappearing .They could smell the difference: the scent of the fruits and flowers of the spring ngahere (usually devoured by rats and possums almost immediately after appearing), gave the air a strong, sweet aroma they hadn't been able to notice before. And they could see the difference: an abundance of fat, healthy, tuna wiggling in the awa   native frogs, trying to blend in with the rocks the rat track cards, that six months ago were criss-crossed with dozen of tiny paw marks, now clean and white with no traces of rat footprints at all. We're well on the path to returning the mana and mauri of the mighty te Raukūmara.  


Community Native Planting

Winter 2023 has been busy with thousands of native trees being planted all around the edges of State Highway 35. With the support of our friends at Trees That Count and also the Tairāwhiti Ngutukaka project, we were thrilled to be gifted thousands of native trees and plants, as well as some funding to cover soil, mulch, tree protectors and some labour costs to help in our goal to, as Wiremu Wharepapa said: “bring te Raukūmara here, to the front of the marae”. With the support of our community in the course of just one month, we have successfully planted a staggering 6,200 beautiful native trees in an area that stretches from Uawa in Ngati Porou to Maraenui in Te Whānau-a-Apanui.  


Much of the planting on the Tairāwhiti side was an opportunity to honor the mahi of so many people who came to Ruatoria’s aid during cyclone Hale and Gabrielle earlier in 2023. "Every taonga we plant is a mihi to the individuals, whānau, people and organisations who helped us" said matua Graeme Atkins.


Native planting mahi for 2023 is now finished with temperatures warming up and a long, hot, dry summer on the horizon. Our planting sites will be in need of water and some help to keep weeds and pests like slugs and snails at bay, so if you’re in range of one of the planting projects this summer, pop in and give the plants a drink, pluck some weeds and give the snails a bit of encouragement to go have lunch somewhere else.  And a massive planting season is being planned for winter 2024, so stay tuned to find out how you can be involved next season. 

 

Check out this amazing video of our planting day at the Ruatoria Airstrip. 



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