Te Tapu O Tāne, a 12-month pilot programme run by an iwi-owned native tree and plant nursery, is rehabilitating catchment across Murihiku, as well as hiring rangatahi, developing their skills and their connection to Te Taiao.
The programme has been funded by the Vodafone Aotearoa foundation's Thriving in Murihiku Fund which donated $415,000 to eight community organisations in Southland, to create positive outcomes for rangatahi.
Te Tapu O Tāne chief executive Java Davis is a staunch supporter of the initiative to help rangatahi by showing them what the mahinga kai cultural harvest means.
“Mahinga kai is our cultural identity, we want to get the next generation involved and give them an understanding of what a mahinga kai is and that this is our identity that we need to sustain in the future.”
Davis said that the rangatahi on the programme get into the nursery and learn how to sow seeds, learn about the whenua while planting native trees and the correct ways of harvesting when the time comes.
Right now Davis is trying to run the programme a couple of times per month.
Davis said that it aimed to “empower the next generation".
"Our rangatahi are going to inherit the world after us so we need to be giving them a good foundation for conservation.
“They are going to do this 12-month programme, they are going to learn about the taonga species and why they are taonga and how to harvest them."
Davis said that the goal after they are successful with the programme is to hand it over it to the schools. “By the time these kids are 18 years old, they will have a good grasp on mahinga kai.”