Projects create benefits into future

  • Hon Kiritapu Allan

Making a well-known lake swimmable and helping to halt the decline of the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins are among a suite of new projects being supported by the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme across the southern South Island, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

“It’s no secret that many of our most recognisable landscapes are under increasing pressure from introduced predators and invasive weeds.

“Whether that be in remotest Fiordland or on the shores of tourist-hub Queenstown’s Lake Whakatipu, our native species that call these places home need all the help they can get,” Kiri Allan said.

The projects range from smaller scale but intensive work – establishing a trapping network at the isolated Waiuna Lagoon, home to bittern, fern birds and kaka – to a major pest control initiative to better protect 23 threatened and at-risk wildlife species across 150,000ha of the Queenstown Lakes District.

“We’re also providing some funding to support the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust to accelerate their work programme to save the endangered hoiho and restore their coastal habitat.

“These birds are a nationally endangered taonga that face a range of threats both on land and at sea, with the number of breeding pairs on mainland New Zealand down 70 per cent since 2008.

“Integral to two of the projects is the setting up of native plant nurseries. These are vital to the restoration and regeneration work, and will provide a combination of formal, informal and on-the-job training – opening up further employment opportunities down the track.

“Importantly each of these initiatives also support communities hit hard by the tourism downturn to continue the valuable work they are doing in caring for their own backyards, work that work that we and future generations, will benefit from,” Kiri Allan said.

The projects announced today are:

Te Nukuroa o Matamata – Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou

Te Nukuroa o Matamata is a three-year project that aims to restore habitat and rejuvenate mahika kai (food gathering places) in the lower Taieri Catchment.

The catchment, which includes the Waihora-Waipōuri wetland complex, is a nationally and internationally recognized refuge for many threatened species of plant, fish and birds.

Jobs for Nature funding ($5 million) will go towards employing and upskilling people to undertake weed and predator control, undertake riparian planting, establish a plant nursery, monitor water quality and manage native fish. This will create 19 full time employment opportunities each year over the course of three years.

This project builds on work undertaken on the Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau wetland complex funded by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu over the last 22 years.

As one of the largest wetland complexes in Aotearoa, this catchment is vitally important habitat for many threatened species.

“Work to restore it will have benefits not only for the immediate landscape, but wider cultural values too,” Kiri Allan said.

The Rehabilitation of Te Wai Whakaata – The Lake Hayes Catchment -project recipient: Mana Tāhuna

An initiative aiming to make Te Wai Whakaata (Lake Hayes) swimmable again receives $4.45 million. Over three years, the project will work with other community groups to undertake native planting, wetland restoration, possum, rat and stoat control and installation of sediment traps. It is estimated that up to 25 people will be employed over three years.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary – project recipient: Southern Lakes Sanctuary Trust

$2.98 million will go towards a three-year project assisting more than 80 local predator control initiatives across 150,000ha of the Southern Lakes region to better protect 23 threatened and at-risk wildlife species from the invasive species of rats, possums, and mustelids. It is estimated that up to 38 people will be employed over three years, comprised of a mixture of field workers, field team leaders, and technical support positions.

Te Tapu o Tāne project – Papatipu Rūnanka o Murihiku

Te Tapu o Tāne, a charitable company led by the four Papatipu Rūnanka o Murihiku, will get $2.125 million over three years to set up native tree and plant nurseries to support catchment rehabilitation within the takiwā of the Papatipu Rūnaka o Murihiku.

“There has been a huge increase in demand for native plants for habitat restoration in recent years and that trend is only expected to continue with this project and others like it contributing to such programmes as the Government’s One Billion Trees initiative,” Kiri Allan said.

The project will employ and train up to nine full-time staff per year.

Bringing the Park to the People through Trail Enhancement – project recipient: Fiordland Trails Trust

$973,000 will go towards noxious weed control, planting enhancement and predator control at the Upukerora River Delta to protect rare and threatened braided river bird species, and for the construction of part of the proposed Te Anau to Te Anau Downs Trail. This is estimated to employ approximately 50 people in part-time positions over a three-year period.

Tamatea Restoration Project – project recipient: Pure Salt Cruises

$700,000 has been allocated towards the use and development of new technologies to eliminate predators within Tamatea/Dusky Sound. A prototype to eliminate stoats will first be done on Mauikatau/Resolution, New Zealand’s seventh largest island, before being rolled out across the other 360 islands in the sound. It is estimated that three people will be employed over three years.

Increasing jobs in hoiho conservation – Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust

$420,000 dollars has been allocated towards halting the decline of hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins across coastal Otago and Southland, with the funding being used to retain two roles – one full-time and one part-time, while also creating an additional full-time and part-time role over the next two years.

Routeburn-Dart Wildlife Trust Predator Trapping project – project recipient: Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust

$416,000 is being invested in additional stoat, possum and feral cat control in the Routeburn, Dart and nearby valleys. This control work is estimated to employ six people across three years helping protect some of the country’s most vulnerable native species.

Big Bay Awarua Ecosystem Restoration Project – project recipient Big Bay Awarua Conservation Trust

$383,000 is available to establish a trapping network at Big Bay Awarua and Waiuna Lagoon to help protect vulnerable native birds such as fern birds, bittern, rail and kākā. It is estimated to employ up to nine people across three years.

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