Grant helps transform pa site
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”.
Te Puke school students lend a hand to clear the Te Kahika Pa¯ site at Makahae Marae.