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$6.6 million to Ngāti Kuri to scale up land restoration

16 January 2024   /   News & reports
The Ngāti Kuri Taiao Team on a recent knowledge exchange in Australia with the Traditional Owners of Girringun National Park.

Ngāti Kuri has received a Foundation North grant for $6.6 million to scale up and sustain the restorative work within their region.

The funding will be provided over three years and will employ 16 people to maintain the restorative work the iwi has been ramping up through their relationships with Auckland Museum, Manaaki Whenua and others, as well as a Department of Conservation Jobs for Nature fund. The Foundation North grant will enable work to continue and activities to be scaled up.

The work is part of the Ngāti Kuri Te Karanga o Te Taiao project, which is under the Te Haumihi programme of work.

Te Haumihi is made up of an ambitious portfolio of projects that focus on creating a resilient environment that can sustain higher levels of economic activity and create a fit-for-purpose workforce that has sustainable employment.

Sheridan Waitai, Ngāti Kuri Trust Board Executive Director and Te Haumihi programme sponsor says the key to the work ahead is uplifting traditional knowledge and transforming their Taiao.

“We want to transform our environment into a place that has sustainable thrivability. Static conservation practices have left Ngāti Kuri with around 42 of our precious Taonga species on the brink of extinction locally. It is time for a reset and it has to be done at pace. Through the Foundation North funding, our people will continue to invest in building a resilient ecosystem by working with as many partners as we can so we can share the benefits. Without a healthy and thriving environment our current business, future economic opportunities and the prosperity of our people are threatened,” she says.

Toka Maaka, Ngāti Kuri Biodiversity Manager says the funding will pay for fencing, trapping, weeding, planting and monitoring taonga species that are threatened or at risk of extinction here and on offshore islands, as well as complete a freshwater plan and attend to the health of the foreshore.

“Historically there has been massive under-investment in environmental work on the land with most work being done irregularly which has undermined any previous successful gains we have made. The Foundation North funding will enable us to continue and sustain the critical work we have started.

“We’ll also look to bring in contract teams to ramp up work and provide job continuity for our people that work in the seasonal tourism and horticulture sectors,” says Mr Maaka.

Ngāti Kuri plans to establish a team of local multi-skilled talent, experienced in ecological restoration whose services can be offered here and overseas.

“In recent years we have been laying the foundation, building up our knowledge and skills so that we can take action, ‘’ says Ms Waitai. “This work is urgent for our people and our environment. We have seen through climate change drier summers and the emergence of a cyclone season which has added extra importance to the work we are doing. We need to bolster the existing environment with the necessary biodiversity to ensure its survival,’ she says.

The environmental work is informed by research undertaken by Ngāti Kuri through its own Research Institute Te Ara Whānui with partner groups playing a key role in enabling further progress.

Foundation North’s Head of Funding, Audry McLaren comments, “This represents an iconic grant in the Foundation’s history, not only given our focus on regenerative environments but also our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to climate action. The regeneration and revitalisation plans for Te Karanga o Te Taiao are of national significance, due to the unique taonga species and whenua which will be restored to this rohe. Furthermore, through Ngāti Kuri sharing their mātauranga and mōhiotanga from this mahi, others doing similar work will benefit - not just in Te Tai Tokerau but beyond.”