Res­i­dents cel­e­brate na­ture

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Lov­ing a com­mu­nal back­yard taonga was the un­der­ly­ing mes­sage as over 50 keen walk­ers gath­ered for the an­nual Pipi­wha­rau­roa: Hikoi for Healthy Na­ture, Healthy Peo­ple walk around Lake Ngatu on Oc­to­ber 18.

The event is now in its sec­ond year and is part of Con­ser­va­tion Week cel­e­bra­tions in Te Hiku.

Healthy Fam­i­lies Far North kai­whaka­haere Shirleyanne Brown says the pipi­wha­rau­roa [shin­ing cuckoo] has also be­come a de­serv­ing sym­bol of the an­nual hikoi, which is hosted by Te Ru¯nanga o Nga¯iTakoto to mark the re­turn of spring and the lakebed to the iwi from its set­tle­ment in 2015.

‘‘It cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for Far North com­mu­ni­ties to con­nect with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and each other us­ing the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion­man­aged walk­ing track as a ve­hi­cle for sus­tain­ing health and well­ness.

‘‘The on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween our part­ners, Nga¯iTakoto and the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, has been a won­der­ful out­come.’’

Kau­matua Kaio Awa­rau said the birds re­turn to the area had marked the re­turn of spring for as long as he could re­mem­ber.

‘‘This bird has trav­elled from the mid Pa­cific, from the Ker­madec Is­lands and from the Solomon Is­lands. What hap­pens is it catches the trade winds that bring it right down the east coast of Aus­tralia and then across the Tas­man Sea to Aotearoa.

‘‘So it’s a sig­nif­i­cant time for all of us to be here to cel­e­brate the ar­rival of the Pipi­wha­rau­roa.’’

In ad­di­tion to the track walk, members of the com­mu­nity were also in­volved in div­ing for kuta and creat­ing kawakawa balm lake­side, to fur­ther build on tra­di­tional health and well­be­ing prac­tices.

Te Ru¯ nanga o Nga¯ iTakoto chief ex­ec­u­tive Ran­gi­tane Mars­den says the on­go­ing con­ser­va­tion ef­fort in and around the lake is a high pri­or­ity for iwi as it moves into post-set­tle­ment phase.

‘‘Our ob­jec­tives into the fu­ture are to bring and con­nect peo­ple back to the land, so every op­por­tu­nity we have to do that is a real pos­i­tive for us.

‘‘We have a ma­jor ko­rowai con­ser­va­tion strat­egy be­ing de­vel­oped, along­side the com­mu­nity, be­cause health and well­be­ing is who we are as a peo­ple,’’ he says.

Peo­ple walk around Lake Ngatu as part of Con­ser­va­tion Week cel­e­bra­tions in Te Hiku.

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