Healing catchments for community well-being in Tairāwhiti

The eight week pilot Tairāwhiti Agroecology Recovery Project (TARP) was made possible by COVID-19 redeployment funding received via the Provincial Development Unit and administered by DOC. TARP is a collaborative venture of hapū/iwi, DOC, and the Tairawhiti Environment Centre, supported by a range of Government agencies including the Ministry of Social Development, and other conservation groups working towards catchment restoration in Tairāwhiti.

Planting day organiser and Mangatu Team Project Manager Matawhero Lloyd is excited to get this event underway. He says it is about ‘healing the land, healing the people,’ and that it also provides a safe process for whānau to engage with the restoration work.

“The planting day will be an awesome celebration of two months of hard work by two employment teams of five that planted over 10,000 natives at wāhi tapu and on retired lands in Mangatu and Waiapu, Ruatoria. The work included fencing, removing invasive weeds, monitoring/trapping pest animals, and planting erosion-prone land with natives,” says Matawhero Lloyd.

“The pilot has improved the well-being of some of our unemployed whānau, helped them gain new skills and increased their knowledge in other areas. The work also enabled them to express their kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and connect with the whenua (land).”

DOC Senior Capability Development Advisor Charles Barrie says, “It has been a privilege to represent Te Papa Atawhai and work with whanau in the development of this project. TARP has the potential for enormous restoration activity across Tairāwhiti.”

A funding proposal has been submitted for phase two to continue, which would create 45+ jobs for 12 months from Mahia to Wharekahika. The work will build on the pilot and also include water quality monitoring, wāhi tapu restoration, cultural awareness and community activities. There is provision for online training and support provided by whanau, hapū/iwi, EIT Tairāwhiti, Tairāwhiti Environment Centre, DOC, and other groups.

This type of catchment restoration can be scaled across the region and country to support the capacity development of local rural Māori communities.

“It is hoped that continued funding in phase two will see these workers return along with many others, giving nature a helping hand,” says Matawhero Lloyd.


Planting day

When: Saturday 27 June 2020, 10 am to 4 pm, then hangi will be supplied. If very wet, it will be postponed to Saturday 4 July 2020.

Where: Te Ngawari buried marae, Mangatu Road, Whatatutu

Ample parking is available but car-pool if possible. Bring suitable footwear and clothing for the conditions.

All whānau of Nga Ariki Kaiputahi, and the wider community of Tairāwhiti are welcome to come and plant.

The evening will also be complemented with a Matariki Maramataka star presentation celebration.

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