60,000 native rākau planted on Titirangi Maunga/Kaitī Hill

By Taroi Black

More than 60,000 native rakau have been planted on Titirangi Maunga/Kaitī Hill to reinstate its mana back to the time of the ancestor and tohunga horticulturalist Te Maro.

Te Maro was renowned for his extensive gardens from the maunga down to the Turanga Nui a Kiwa awa. One of his main source of kai was hue, to which he learnt the matauranga of that special kai from his grandfather Maia Poroaki who occupied the Puhi Kai Iti pa below Titirangi.   

Titirangi Maunga/Kaitī Hill. Photo / File

The biosecurity programme by Gisborne District Council, ‘Whaia Titirangi’ is a project focusing heavily on weed control and re-establishing the natural look of the maunga.

“I do notice a lot of kawakawa and karamu growing back by itself, the birds have been spreading a bit of that around.”

It is part of the Council’s Biosecurity Plant Pest team’s vision to ensure more native rakau and native manu thrive in its habitat, considering the surrounding area of Gisborne is urban.

But the biggest role for members working with Whaia Titirangi, is having a positive relationship with local mana whenua, Ngāti Oneone and Rongowhakaata who also have interests in their Treaty claims.  

Both mana whenua and Whaia Titirangi work to fulfilling the Titirangi Management Plan which maintains and looks after the health of the maunga.  

Photo / File

Titirangi Maunga a tourist attraction in Turanga, to which saw the late Diana, Princess of Wales plant a pohutukawa tree. However, the maunga is also a significant site for the history of Captain James Cook whose statue was removed by council for the death of Te Maro by his crew.

Today, a team from Whaia Titirangi and Women’s Native Tree Planting Trust collaborated, along with the public and local schools to source native seeds from the existing rākau and propagate it.

Its purpose is to ensure the whakapapa from the existing rākau continue to live on through the new sprouts.

“Whaia Titirangi started in October 2018 and we've pretty much been going hard," she says. 

More than 500 seedlings of puriri, karamu, tī kouka, kohuhu, karo, harakeke and whauwhau paku were collected and propagated today at Eastern Institute of Technology.

Photo / File

Women’s Native Tree Planting Trust spokesperson Kauri Forno told Te Ao Maori News people need to take action. 

“Tairāwhiti is really barren. We've lost our trees, we're losing our water quality, so we just want more native trees out there so we grow them," Forno says.