Ngā Whenua Rāhui turns 25
I was privileged to represent DOC at the 25th anniversary celebration for Ngā Whenua Rāhui on 25 August.
The programme was established in 1990 with the aim of protecting the natural integrity of Māori land and preserving mātauranga Māori.
It now has 170,000 hectares of private Māori land under conservation covenants and many of those attending spoke of the success of the programme.
One of the most powerful moments was a haka performed in tribute to Ninja Herewini, a ranger killed in a hit and run accident in 2011.
DOC writer-in-residence Harry Broad has compiled a collection of stories about Ngā Whenua Rāhui, some of which can be found on our website.
Four islands returned to Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau
On 29 August, I joined Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry, DOC staff and local iwi/hapu on Rangitoto Island for the return of four islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf/ Tikapa Moana to the iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Ownership of Rangitoto, Motutapu, Motuihe/Te-Motu-a-Ihenga and Titiri Matangi islands was transferred to the Tūpuna Taonga Trust, representing 13 iwi. At the end of September, the trust will gift the islands back to the Crown for co-management.
This was an important milestone for Treaty claims in Tāmaki Makaurau and a significant occasion for more than 100 mana whenua in attendance.
The historic moment was marked with the presentation of a greenstone taonga to symbolise our joint commitment to settle historical grievances, in order to move to a new and positive relationship between the Crown and Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau.
Motuihe Island visit
While in Auckland, I visited Motuihe/Te-Motu-a-Ihenga where, since 2002, Motuihe Island Restoration Trust has planted 450,000 plants and averaged 10,000 volunteer days a year.
The ASB Community Trust (renamed Foundation North earlier this year) and Auckland Council have been very supportive of the Trust’s restoration activities, and they have strong corporate sponsors in Spark, PWC, GE Money, Ricoh and the Volvo Ocean Race. Auckland’s Outboard Boating Club has contributed further support and volunteers.
Trust chair John Laurence has overseen the restoration of 40 kiwi, 20 saddleback, 35 bellbirds, 40 kakariki, 60 whiteheads, 60 tuatara, three gecko species and one skink species to the island.
Our island ranger, Dave Beamish, is doing a superb job in helping the trust with their restoration efforts.
I was also able to stay overnight with staff on Motutapu Island and meet with their 100-strong volunteer planting group.
A new qualification for our administration staff
Congratulations to the 12 administration staff who recently passed the National Certificate of Business Administration and Computing (level 3).
Director, Administration Dene Robinson presents Jo Burnard and Serena Taylor with their certificates at the CNI Administration Hui.
This NZQA-accredited qualification was designed specifically for DOC administrative staff.
We could not do what we do without our excellent administrators, and recognising their skills is a great way to keep growing this capability within DOC. Great stuff team!
Towards a predator-free Mount Taranaki
In August, we held talks with five of the eight Taranaki iwi about joining together on a project to investigate a predator-free Mount Taranaki.
The meeting, held at Ngati Ruanaui-owned Mountain House on Mount Taranaki, was positive and we came away with plans to hold more discussions about designing a governance group and developing a project plan. We’re also talking to potential funders about supporting ‘Project Maunga’.
Project Maunga will have four objectives: achieving predator-free (including a halo area around the mountain), reintroducing species, education, and supporting Oranga Whenua, Oranga Tangata: Health Nature Healthy People.
I’ll be returning to Taranaki on Saturday 5 September to represent the Department at the Taranaki Tuturu iwi Deed of Settlement signing at Pukeiti.
Working with Ngāi Tahu
On Friday 21 August, DOC’s South Island Directors, Deputy Director Generals, and I met with 12 senior representatives of Ngāi Tahu as we resolved a plan to reset our relationship and initiate a number of co-management projects. The most important of these will be a new management plan for Aoraki/Mount Cook and the employment of a new Pou in the Christchurch office of Ngāi Tahu, as well as an integrated approach to business planning.
Getting things going with Te Urewera
We recently held a two-day board meeting at Murupara and Tāneatua to start work on the Te Urewera management plan, and heard from seven iwi representatives about their vision for the future.
Following last month’s news of the new working relationship with Te Uru Taumatua (TUT), our 30 staff have now started working on secondment to TUT and three of our vehicles are sporting the Te Urewera identity.