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Rescuing Raukumara - $34 million for restoration project

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

A combined iwi and Crown programme to restore the Raukumara forest on the East Coast and boost employment opportunities will receive $34 million in Government funding.

“The Raukumara Pae Maunga restoration project is a partnership with Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou, and Te Papa Atawhai (Department of Conservation) that will strengthen cultural connections with the Raukumara, involve pest control over 150,000 hectares of whenua/land and contribute to habitat and species recovery,” Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said.
“Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Porou deserve thanks for their efforts to raise public awareness about the state of the Raukumara and the need to protect these magnificent forests.
“They have developed this project to do just that alongside Te Papa Atawhai. The Raukumara needs urgent care after being simultaneously attacked by possums, deer, goats, rats and stoats,” said Ms Sage.
“These pests and predators have destroyed the canopy and understorey of the ngahere/forest, and attacked threatened species to the point of local extinction. As a result of this sustained attack from the explosion of pests, soil health is poor and there’s a decline in seeds and new growth,” she said.

Raukumara Conservation Park is home to rare species like the whio/blue duck, kaka, kereru and Hochstetter’s frog.

“This programme will help turn around the biodiversity crisis and provide an avenue of employment and upskilling for those who live in the East Coast area,” said Ms Sage. “It will help sustain and strengthen a sense of connection with place and community.”

The funding, over four years, is part of the Government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme to assist with economic recovery following Covid-19. At least 23 jobs will be initially created, with another 18 seasonal FTEs (full-time equivalents) expected for deer and goat culling. The work will include pest control, trapping, restoration planning, cultural advice, carbon monitoring and biodiversity monitoring.

“This is a good example of Jobs for Nature funding being used to uplift communities while restoring and protecting our precious places to ensure our native wildlife thrives,” Ms Sage said.

Working together to restore health of Raukumara

This is a genuine partnership with Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Porou, who both have strong connections with the Raukumara dating back hundreds of years and want to work together to see the ngahere restored to health. It’s also a way to maintain cultural practices such as mahinga kai (food gathering) and rongoa (medicine), and create local employment.

Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Porou welcomed the funding announcement.

“Both Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou acknowledge the large team of people who have gotten us here today and our intentions as iwi to work together to achieve our aspirations for future generations,” said Te Runanga o Te Whanau chief executive Rikirangi Gage.

“Our pae maunga (mountain range)has been calling to us and today the Minister’s announcement and the support of Jobs for Nature acknowledges that call for us as descendants o te Raukumara pae maunga."

Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou deputy chair Rei Kohere said:

“This is about both of our iwi and tikanga (customs) integral to us and our whenua (land).”

Raukumara is described by tangata whenua (people of the land) as their iho matua (umbilical cord, connection) to Papatuanuku (Earth mother).

“If the Raukumara is sick, the connection of the people to the earth is compromised. Research has shown our beloved Raukumara is on the brink of collapse. In just two generations we are now facing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity in Raukumara."
“Our ngahere is being destroyed from the inside, our pae maunga is mauiui (sick) and our iwi are disconnected from our whenua.”

The project has also been supported by the Nga Whenua Rahui programme, Kiwis for kiwi national charity, Forest and Bird, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

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