An Iwitea Māori incorporation will receive up to $40,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to find the best sustainable use for their land.
The best land use assessment will help the Whakakī 2N Incorporation investigate opportunities that could lead to increased productivity on their collective land blocks through diversification and alternative land use options.
The land blocks consist of 466 hectares adjacent to Lake Whakakī, 10 kilometres from Wairoa, which are currently leased out for sheep and beef farming. The total lake catchment area totals approximately 6,000 hectares of predominantly sparsely populated steep hill country.
"The initial assessment will enable Whakakī 2N to make some informed decisions through exploring new and emerging technologies and different land use options. These could include planting mānuka, growing hemp as a nutrient management tool, monitoring the land's rainfall, moisture and drainage, and re-introducing native flora and fauna to reinvigorate the ecosystem," says Ben Dalton, Head of the Regional Growth Programme at the Ministry for Primary Industries.
"There's been erosion, water quality and flooding issues in the low-lying Whakakī catchment area, and MPI and the local and regional councils are already working with the local community to find initiatives that will improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the catchment community. These will create economic diversity and environmental benefits. The Whakakī 2N land use assessment will provide further information to feed into this work."
Liz Palmer, a trustee for Whakakī 2N, said doing nothing with their land was not an option for them. "We want to ensure that the whānau stays connected to the land and we're part of the decision-making. The catchment has some unique issues but if we do nothing we will continue to lose land productivity through existing sedimentation and erosion problems. We want to know what our options are, backed up by good and viable information," she said.
The funding for the assessment comes from MPI's Māori Agribusiness Fund and contributes to initiatives in the Hawke's Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, Matariki, which is part of the Regional Growth Programme.
MPI's Māori Agribusiness team helps Māori make the most of their primary sector assets from production, processing through to exporting, via tailored support. The Regional Growth Programme is an across government initiative co-led by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) which aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.