Look­ing good in 2019

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

On Mon­day I was at Man­ga­toa Sta­tion, where the Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced a new re­gional skills and em­ploy­ment ini­tia­tive, Te Ara Mahi, aimed, as Shane Jones put it, “get­ting the nephs off the couch”.

More than $80 mil­lion was al­lo­cated from the Provin­cial Growth Fund to in­crease em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth liv­ing in the re­gions.

At Wai­tangi, I met with a num­ber of youth train­ing providers who spe­cialise in en­vi­ron­men­tal/ kaiti­ak­i­tanga ed­u­ca­tion who have been strug­gling for sup­port. This an­nounce­ment was mu­sic to their ears. Papa Ta­iao par­tic­u­larly im­pressed me be­cause it em­pha­sised en­ter­prise, or how you can turn a prob­lem into a so­lu­tion.

Founder Marty Tay­lor told me, “At Papa Ta­iao the fo­cus re­volves around de­vel­op­ing ways of mak­ing a liv­ing (en­ter­prise) that safe­guards the en­vi­ron­ment. Our cour­ses fo­cus on en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to de­rive ben­e­fits from tak­ing care of the en­vi­ron­ment. Those ben­e­fits may be as var­ied as phys­i­cal or men­tal health. For ex­am­ple, find­ing pur­pose, har­vest­ing food or gath­er­ing an in­come.”

This ap­proach has gained sig­nif­i­cant recog­ni­tion in the form of awards. In the the past two years Papa Ta­iao Earth­care tauira/stu­dents from Te Hiku have been awarded three na­tional ex­cel­lence awards from the Young En­ter­prise pro­gramme, eight re­gional ex­cel­lence awards, and one Te Hiku/North­land Re­gional en­vi­ron­men­tal award for ran­gatahi.

Last year one of their cour­ses had stu­dents op­er­ate their own oys­ter farm, whose prof­its were shared based on at­ten­dance. Stu­dents from Kaitaia al­ready have 60,000 oys­ters in the wa­ter, wait­ing for har­vest later in the year. An­other had stu­dents restor­ing ku­tai/mus­sel beds by re­mov­ing the marine pest pyura (sea squirt) and turn­ing it into an or­ganic fertiliser.

If you know of any young­ster who could be in­ter­ested in join­ing this year’s moana NCEAac­cred­ited restora­tion course, tell them to con­tact Marty on (027) 561-4646 or Patau on (021) 184-8653.

Later that day I took this ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing theme down to the fo­rum tent, where I’d been asked to join a panel dis­cus­sion on 1080. My feel­ings were there wasn’t much point in ar­gu­ing about the good and bad points of fluroac­etate, its ac­tive in­gre­di­ent, but rather to iden­tify ‘big pic­ture’ prob­lems, prin­ci­pally the on­go­ing un­der­fund­ing of con­ser­va­tion by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments.

I’m happy to say your re­gional coun­cil has dou­bled the amount tar­geted at pests and preda­tors, with an ad­di­tional $6 mil­lion go­ing to sup­port com­mu­nity groups protecting kiwi over the next three years. But this still isn’t enough if we want to stop the on­go­ing ex­tinc­tions of na­tive species. We need to in­crease boots on the ground 10-fold. Mon­day’s an­nounce­ment was a good step in the right di­rec­tion, and we’ll be en­cour­ag­ing it to do more.

"I’m happy to say your re­gional coun­cil has dou­bled the amount tar­geted at pests and preda­tors, with an ad­di­tional $6 mil­lion go­ing to sup­port com­mu­nity groups protecting kiwi over the next three years."

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