An iwi-Crown approach programme to restore the Raukūmara forest on the East Coast of the North Island and boost employment opportunities for whānau, particularly rangatahi/young people, will receive $34 million funding, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has announced.
“Raukūmara Pae Maunga is a partnership with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, and Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) which will strengthen cultural connections with the Raukūmara, involve pest control over 150,000 hectares of whenua/land and contribute to habitat and species recovery,” said Eugenie Sage.
“Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou deserve thanks for their efforts to raise public awareness about the state of the Raukūmara and the need to protect these magnificent forests. They have developed this project to do just that alongside Te Papa Atawhai.
“The Raukūmara needs urgent care after being simultaneously attacked by possums, deer, goats, rats and stoats. These pests and predators have destroyed the canopy and understorey of the ngāhere/forest, and attacked threatened species to the point of local extinction.
“As a result of this sustained attack from the explosion of pests, soil health is poor and there’s a decline in seeds and new growth.”
The Raukūmara Conservation Park is home to rare species like whio/blue duck, kaka, kererū, and Hochstetter’s frog.
“This programme will help turn around the biodiversity crisis and provide an avenue of employment and upskilling for those that live in the East Coast area. It will help sustain ahi kā/ strengthen a sense of connection with place and community” said Eugenie Sage.
The funding, over four years, is part of the Government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme to assist with economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 23 jobs will be created initially, with another 18 seasonal FTEs expected for deer and goat culling. The work will include pest control, trapping, restoration planning, cultural advice, carbon monitoring and biodiversity monitoring.
“This is a good example of Jobs for Nature funding being used to uplift communities while restoring and protecting our precious places, to ensure our native wildlife thrives” said Eugenie Sage.
This is a genuine partnership with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou who both have strong connections with the Raukūmara dating back hundreds of years, and want to work together to see the ngāhere restored to health. It’s also a way to maintain cultural practices such as mahinga kai and rongoā, and create local employment.