Restoring native forests and upskilling rangatahi

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An iwi-led project in Hawke’s Bay has just received $480,560 through the One Billion Trees Fund to restore native forest and upskill rangatahi [young people].

In 2017, approximately 73 hectares of virgin native forest in the upper Ripia River catchment were severely damaged by fire. The majority of the land affected is managed by Te Matai No 1.and No 2. Trust.  A neighbouring Ahu Whenua Trust will also benefit, with 6 hectares being restored by this project.

Deputy director-general of Te Uru Rākau, Julie Collins, says funding through the One Billion Trees Partnership Fund will provide work experience and career development for up to 8 rangatahi.

"The training will utilise mātauranga principles and help to re-establish their connection to their whenua.

"Just as importantly, it will allow Te Matai No. 1 and No. 2 Trust to restore this destroyed forest and further protect the environment by planting trees to reduce erosion, improve water quality and enhance indigenous biodiversity," Julie Collins says.

The project is expected to last approximately 3 years with the majority of planting in 2020 and 2021, with releasing and pest control being the primary funded activities in 2022.

Background notes about the project

Te Matai Ripia Restoration Project will receive funding of $480,560 to contribute towards training and work experience, and also assist with the cost of seedlings.

Approximately 73 hectares of established native bush was burnt in a 2017 fire leaving a denuded 'island' within a substantial block of native bush. Access to the site is either a 5-hour tramp, or via helicopter, so it is proposed to utilise this remoteness to provide immersive work experience to a group of local unemployed people.

In 2018, Te Matai planted approximately 18,000 manuka and performed weed control initial work, to hasten the regeneration of this forest. This funding will help the full area to be restored.

This section of the Ripia catchment has a rainfall of approximately 2 metres annually and forest cover is essential to control sedimentation. In addition, the forest is acknowledged as having ecological significance.

The training programme

Within the iwi, there are many young members who do not have employment skills. The Te Matai No. 1 and No. 2 Trust has experience in working with these members and is keen to help them reach their potential. The work experience proposed will be multi-faceted and overseen by people who have experience in working with the land and the trainees.

As access to the site is either a 5-hour tramp or via helicopter, each planting shift will be 5 to 7 days in duration providing an immersive work experience to a group of local unemployed people.

Trips in 2020 will include overplanting the manuka planted in 2018 with podocarps (large tree species) and planting the remainder in manuka.

Planting in 2021 will include overplanting the manuka planted in 2020 with podocarps.

All trips to the land will include weeding and pest control. The project will provide up to 6 field rangatahi with work experience including a grounding in Mātauranga Māori and re-establishing their connection to their whenua.

Skill development for those in the field will include:

  • mātauranga Māori
  • general life skills
  • individual responsibility within a team
  • survival skills
  • native flora identification
  • weeding
  • planting
  • small animal pest control (possums)
  • awareness of large animal pest control (deer)
  • classic forestry skills.

An additional 1 to 2 people will be office-based and trained in project management, logistics, and other support skills.

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