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Saving the Raukumara

A plan to restore the Raukumara Forest Park by eradicating pests through different methods such as 1080, traps, ground culls and bait stations is proposed by the people who are directly connected to the area.

The Raukumara Pae Maunga Restoration Project requires the government to provide $34.5 million over five years to help save the 150,000ha of forest in the Raukumara.

The plan was created by Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Porou with support from their hapu and input from local communities to achieve the ecological and cultural restoration and revitalisation of the Raukumara.

Te Runanga o Ngati Porou deputy chair and conservation and environment committee chair Rei Kohere said it was important because the Raukumara was in urgent need of assistance.

“It’s a plan that has been developed from the ground up by Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou and people in the community with help from those with technical expertise in this field,” Mr Kohere said.

“The plan will serve as the basis for a funding bid being developed by the Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage to address the heavily degraded state of the Raukumara.”

The funds would pay for pest control, including the creation of 18 new positions to boost the deer/goat culling team to 26. A further 23 full-time positions would become available throughout the project.

The pest control methods proposed include 1080, trapping, ground culling, bait stations and aerial culling.

Different approaches are recommended for different areas and this would be decided in conjunction with communities, monitoring, expert advice and science, the plan says.

“It’s important that it’s had a solid consultation grounding throughout the two iwi rohe,” Mr Kohere said.

“The plan for this and the proposal for funding came from a trip by the Minister (of Conservation) into the Raukumara in February. The concern about the area has been ongoing for quite some time."

“This plan tries to do two things — to represent the aspirations of the people and the solutions they think are warranted, and the extent to which they think the work should be done."

“It’s a very holistic, integrated approach and is long-term because full restoration won’t happen within the five- year funding window.”

The final cost will depend on what is approved, and what pest control methods are decided on by the landowners.

Schools and education providers will also receive information to help educate people about the environmental issues in the Raukumara.

Plan 'a milestone' Te Whanau-a-Apanui chief executive and lead negotiator Rikirangi Gage said the restoration project was a milestone in addressing the state of the Raukumara.

“This plan is a result of all the work that has been done on both Ngati Porou and Te Whanau sides of the Raukumara,” he said.

“It will take a few generations to restore Raukumara but it is a way to slow down the degradation that has happened there."

“It’s probably a 30 to 50 year kaupapa."

“The Raukumara is part of an interconnected system. Our rivers, waterways and land are all linked together."

“The key thing about this was working and building the plan from the bottom up. It’s a reflection of the aspirations of the communities connected to the Raukumara.”

Mr Gage said the Treaty underpinned the relationship between the Department of Conservation and iwi.

“It’s an opportunity for this government to work with two iwi that are on the same page for this project."

“There lies an opportunity to develop really good working models for how the government and iwi work together,” Mr Gage said.

Interactive monitoring and a communications strategy will keep all results accessible to the community.

“Te Raukumara is sick — but nga iwi o te Raukumara (tribes of the Raukumara) and the people of Aotearoa can save, restore and protect it,” the plan says.

The Raukumara Conservation Park is Crown- owned with the government required to work in partnership with iwi.

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