Grant helps trans­form pa site

Te Puke Times - - NEWS -

The trans­for­ma­tion of a Ta­puika pa¯ site in Te Puke has been made pos­si­ble with the help of a com­mu­nity grant, vol­un­teers and school stu­dents.

Ngati Tuheke hapu¯ of Maka­hae Marae re­ceived $19,000 from the Western Bay of Plenty Dis­trict Coun­cil 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.

The project was com­pleted last month and has 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 bee keep­ing and honey pro­duc­tion as­pi­ra­tions.

Project man­ager Elva Con­roy said the project has been in­spi­ra­tional for the whole marae com­mu­nity and has trans­formed the land­scape, in­clud­ing open­ing up long lost view shafts.

“We had for­got­ten what our views of the Otawa and Pa¯pa¯moa 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.

“This project has been won­der­ful for con­nect­ing our whanau, teach­ing our young peo­ple about their an­ces­tral land and en­cour­ag­ing them to be kaiti­aki of our land in the fu­ture. It has cre­ated en­thu­si­asm for our en­vi­ron­ment and we hope it will build mo­men­tum for fu­ture en­vi­ron­men­tal projects,” she said.

The site had be­come an over­grown wilder­ness of weeds and in­cluded plants such as wat­tle, wan­der­ing jew, woolly night­shade and Chi­nese privet that were known ir­ri­tants to wha¯nau health.

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.

The marae in­tends us­ing the land for sus­tain­able man­age­ment us­ing tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary knowl­edge. It has also cre­ated a path­way to re­con­nect the marae to the Wa­iari River.

The project in­volved nu­mer­ous wha¯nau work­ing bees, the in­put of six lo­cal schools and at least 350 school chil­dren, in­clud­ing pri­mary, in­ter­me­di­ate and high school stu­dents. Te Puke High School science and tech­nol­ogy stu­dents pro­vided spe­cial help with drone footage of the project and will con­tinue work­ing with Maka­hae Marae on fu­ture projects.

The coun­cil’s 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.”

Te Kahika Pa¯ draws its name from the once plen­ti­ful kahikatea forests which grew through­out the wet­land basin pro­vid­ing a green-belt of harakeke and raupo¯. The at­tributes and value of the kahika tree to Ngati Tuheke are found in tra­di­tional ko­rero.

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 match­ing 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.

■ To view a video of the project visit www.youtube.com and search “Maka­hae Marae”.

PHOTO / RANGITAWHAI RAHIRI

Te Puke school stu­dents lend a hand to clear the Te Kahika Pa¯ site at Maka­hae Marae.

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