Iwi-led charity awarded $2.125m to restore southern whenua, awa

By Mārena Mane

In Southland, a new iwi-led environmental charity aims to create local jobs while also restoring the whenua and awa.

Te Tapu o Tāne chief executive Jana Davis says his charity plans to create a home base in Waihopai in the next several years by establishing a nursery and hiring a minimum of 25 kaimahi.

“We've been given all the tools to create something sustainable that's intergenerational that's led by iwi, and then pushing that to the next level.”

Te Tapu o Tāne was awarded $2.125 million in jobs for nature funding this week, which will be used to build three native plant nurseries and carry out land and water restoration initiatives over the next three years.

Te Tapu o Tāne is incorporated by mana whenua by four Papatipu Rūnanga of Murihiku, Waihopai, Awarua, Ōraka Aparima and Hokonui.

Davis believes that integrated catchment management is a very Te Ao Māori way of establishing a nursery.

Mana whenua emphasis

“You can't just plant trees and plants and hope they'll survive. You've got to think about the pests, you've got to think about the water quality mapping and then hopefully work with the rūnanga to relocate taonga manu back to the whenua.”

Davis says the vision of Te Tapu o Tāne is led by the rūnanga and, therefore, not just creating nurseries but also creating an identity to their projects that is creating more ownership by mana whenua.

“The Crown-iwi partnership is very much alive in the south, and this is just a result of it, which is great and I think it should be happening all around the country.”

Davis says once the funding runs out he intends to work with landowners and councils looking into offsetting their carbon footprint and providing training and pathways for their younger members through a partnership with the Southern Institute of Technology and the rūnanga.