Looking good in 2019
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."