Council community fund helps marae
The transformation of a sacred pa¯ site in Te Puke has been made possible with the help of a community grant funding Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
Ngati Tuheke hapu¯ of Makahae Marae received $19,000 from the council’s Community Matching Fund in 2017 for an environmental project to clear the Te Kahika Pa¯ site of invasive weeds and restore its “korowai” (cloak) of native trees and plants.
Last month, the project was completed. It has now resulted in the eradication of scrub and weeds and the planting of 3700 trees and plants, including a new fruit orchard and a manuka block to support the marae’s beekeeping and honey production aspirations.
Project manager Elva Conroy said the project was inspirational for the whole marae community and it had transformed the landscape, including opening up longlost views.
“We had forgotten what our views of the Otawa and Papamoa hills were. We even have a view out to Tuhua [Mayor] Island – it’s wonderful. We could not have done this without council’s matching fund,” she said.
Conroy hoped it would build momentum for future environmental projects.
The project aims to enhance the ecological value of Te Kahika Pa¯ by planting native trees for bird habitat, encourage the planting of rongoa¯ plants for healing and education, fruit trees for the marae and the on-site kohanga reo and to establish a manuka block to produce honey for the marae.
Council community engagement adviser Glenn Ayo said the project was a winner on many levels.
“Firstly, from a council perspective, it’s great to see the matching fund achieving its goals, but it’s also good to see a win for the environment, a win with the involvement of our young people and a win for a local marae that’s looking fantastic now.
“I particularly acknowledge the huge workload that Elva has put in to make this happen. Ka mau te wehi.”
The Community Matching Fund of $100,000 is the council’s annual contribution to groups that show outstanding commitment to their communities and that can “match” the council’s cash grant – be it in volunteer hours, cash in hand or similar criteria. The fund is split into $40,000 for ecological projects such as the Makahae Marae project and $60,000 for all other community projects.